Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
I am deeply concerned by the humanitarian situation inside Syria, with an estimated 13.1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. The situation in Rukban, where around 40,000 people are located in a makeshift settlement, remains particularly challenging due to the difficulties in securing access for humanitarian aid.
Ireland continues to call for full unimpeded access for humanitarian aid and humanitarian workers to all parts of Syria. This Department continues to engage closely with the United Nations to support its attempts to secure access for humanitarian assistance to Rukban.
I welcome the 6 February convoy to Rukban jointly organised by the United Nations in Syria and Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) convoy to Rukban. The UN and SARC delivered a one-month food ration to over 8,000 families, along with shelter materials and core relief items, including blankets, sleeping mats and water containers. 10,000 dignity kits were distributed to women and girls, while critical nutritional supplies were provided to young children. Essential medicine and equipment were provided, and thousands of children were provided with vaccines, educational materials and recreational materials.
While the delivery of this vital assistance is welcome, the Government shares the assessment of the UN that sustained access is needed and that a dignified long-term solution, enabling people at the site to decide voluntarily and safely how to return to normal life in a place of their choosing, is required.
Ireland has provided over €118 million in humanitarian assistance since the conflict in Syria began. At the upcoming Brussels III Conference in March we will continue providing much needed funding for humanitarian assistance and supporting the protection of civilians, freedom of movement and sustained access for humanitarian workers.
But the human suffering caused by the Syrian conflict, including Rukban, can only be brought to an end by reaching a sustainable political solution. Ireland fully supports UN efforts to lead political negotiations to end the conflict based on the 2012 Geneva Communique and UN Security Council resolution 2254.