Ambassador Samantha Power

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

U.S. Mission to the United Nations

New York City

January 18, 2016


Today, the United Nations Security Council heard a briefing from Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who briefed the Council on the situation in Syria, including progress toward political negotiations set to begin at the end of January. He emphasized the devastating effects the conflict has had on the Syrian people.

The United States remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria—especially in the 15 besieged areas—and in any place where Syrians are suffering and, in some cases dying, for lack of access to assistance. The Syrian regime has besieged 12 of those 15 areas, and its callousness is evident in harrowing images—and at least 35 deaths from starvation since the beginning of December. Though the regime is not alone:  ISIL and certain armed opposition groups are also engaging in this barbaric method of warfare. Secretary-General Ban has rightly described the entire situation as “utterly unconscionable.” All parties—in particular, the Syrian regime—must immediately comply with obligations under international humanitarian law and allow immediate, unconditional and unfettered access to humanitarian assistance by all those in need in Syria. The United Nations, relief agencies and the larger international community should not accept access on a piecemeal basis.

Of course, the only way to fully address the humanitarian situation in Syria is through a political solution as outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We fully support Special Envoy de Mistura in leading the efforts toward the negotiations outlined in this resolution, and look forward to the talks convening as scheduled at the end of January without preconditions. We note the International Syria Support Group and the UN Security Council have given their full support to a political transition. A political solution cannot include a role for President Bashar al Assad, who has lost the ability and credibility to govern the Syrian people.

More than ever, the Syrian people need signs of hope that they are not destined to live in conflict indefinitely. While some have attempted to decouple the two issues, the parties to the conflict must mitigate humanitarian suffering and pursue a political solution in parallel. The United States will continue to push for full humanitarian access to all Syrians in need while at the same time wholly supporting the UN-led negotiations process.