I join earlier speakers in thanking ASG (Assistant Secretary-General) Kang for her briefing. It provided a vital update on ongoing efforts to respond to the critical health needs of civilians in the hard to reach and besieged areas in Syria.
2. In deploring the unacceptable human cost of the ongoing conflict, it is simply staggering that more than 400,000 Syrians live under siege conditions, a tool of warfare which harks back to the Middle Ages and which civilised nations and peoples have since rejected.
3. It is unimaginable that in the twenty-first century, parties to the Syrian conflict would resort to such deplorable tactics of besieging cities and starving whole populations, including women and children, as a strategy of war. The employment of this strategy adds another inhumane and horrifying dimension to the Syrian conflict.
4. Earlier this week, we were heartened by the breakthrough made by the UN and its partners in securing safe passage and conduct for humanitarian relief mission to the besieged towns of Madaya, Foah and Kefraya.
5. We call on all parties to ensure that such access will continue to be provided to those towns and we expect that access for humanitarian relief and supplies could be granted to other hard-to-reach areas including those under siege by various parties to the conflict.
6. Malaysia shares the concerns on the plight of the 400 people in immediate need of medical evacuation from Madaya as highlighted by OCHA. They are not mere numbers or statistics but human like us. We urge the relevant authorities to expedite their immediate evacuation. If this is not possible, we would demand that the necessary medical assistance providers be given unimpeded and expedited access to Madaya.
7. In welcoming the lifting of blockade against Madaya, Foah and Kefraya, my delegation stresses that all parties to the conflict have an unequivocal responsibility to protect civilians at all times. The siege and starve strategy which callously devalues human life and violates international laws must not continue.
8. In addition to the daily struggle of surviving the hail of bullets and bombs, the situation of ordinary Syrians including those being besieged is increasingly precarious with the onset of winter.
9. We wish to underscore that there can only be meaningful and sustained improvement to the overall humanitarian situation in Syria through a peacefully negotiated peaceful resolution to the conflict.
10. Malaysia affirms its support for the ISSG-led initiative towards a political resolution to the Syrian conflict as outlined in resolution 2254. In this connection, we call on all relevant parties to participate in the UN-facilitated talks scheduled 25 January 2016, without preconditions. Syria and ordinary Syrians have bled long enough.
To conclude Mr. President,
11. While we are hopeful that the upcoming talks could pave the way for a sustained truce or cessation of hostilities among the various parties, particularly between the Government and opposition forces, the dire humanitarian crisis faced by ordinary Syrian necessitates urgent actions by the international community to ensure the safe passage and conduct of humanitarian assistance, aid and relief to those most in need, especially those in hard-to-reach and besieged areas.
12. We call on States with influence over the parties to the conflict to do their utmost to ensure that the sieges end and that humanitarian aid reaches those in besieged areas.
Thank you, Mr. President.