The United Nations Special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, regretted that during two years of frozen front lines, the international community had not seized upon the window provided by that relative calm to build a credible political process.
“We need to be honest about the mismatch between the scale of our collective political efforts and the scale of the challenge at hand,” he stressed.
He outlined the deepening humanitarian crisis in Syria and the threat of escalating violence between the US forces and Iranian-backed militias in the country.
In a briefing to the UN Security Council from Geneva, Pedersen detailed the troubling signs of military escalation, noting that the degree of fragmentation in Syria, the region and internationally prevents the international community from addressing this conflict in a comprehensive manner.
Yet, he emphasized that “this is the only way to avoid another dangerous collapse.”
He expressed concern over troubling signs of military escalation in recent months, detailing August strikes attributed to a wide range of actors.
“An escalatory cycle could see events further unravel,” he stressed, underlining the cost for civilians and the threat to international peace and security given the international nature of many of the latest clashes.
Speaking about the humanitarian situation, the envoy underscored the importance of all Council members’ support for the implementation of all aspects of resolution 2642 (2022), including the cross-border and cross-line modalities and assistance with early recovery.
He also emphasized the need for a political process that moves steadily forward, noting that “we do not have that at present”.
Recalling his July briefing regarding why plans for the ninth session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee are on hold, he detailed recent engagement with Russian, Iranian and Turkish senior officials and voiced hope that the Committee will soon reconvene in Geneva.
He added, however, that the key challenge facing the Committee “is not the venue, but the lack of progress on substance.”
Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Joyce Msuya, highlighted the recent increase in violence in northern Syria, reporting that drone strikes and shelling resulted in civilian casualties.
Noting reports about preparations for a possible military operation in northern Syria, she said displacement is already happening and violence is impeding the United Nations ability to operate.
“The cross-line mission to Ras al Ayn was postponed due to increased hostilities, despite all the necessary approvals and preparation.”
She strongly appealed to the members of the Council to ensure respect for the rules of war and accountability for serious violations.
Msuya also spoke about the “extremely bad” security situation in al-Hol camp and called on all member states involved to take urgent action and fulfill their responsibility to repatriate their citizens through all available routes.