Syrian foreign minister has denounced the politicization of humanitarian response to the devastating earthquake that struck the Arab country recently, saying it failed to prick the conscience of some countries who pretend to advocate human rights.
Faisal Mekdad made the remarks in a video speech to the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council on Thursday as Syria continues to grapple with the aftermath of the earthquake that hit the country and neighboring Turkey on February 6, leaving more than 50,000 people dead on both sides.
The devastating impact of the deadly tremor has been exacerbated by the years-long Western blockade and unilateral sanctions against Syria, which is still fighting to eliminate the remnants of Takfiri terrorism across the country.
“The catastrophe of the earthquake that struck Syria has deepened the harsh conditions the country has been going through for twelve years. It added grave challenges and doubled the suffering of the Syrians,” Mekdad said in his speech, as quoted by Syria’s official SANA news agency.
“The Syrian Government quickly launched an emergency response plan at the national level to address the repercussions of the disaster, and appealed to countries and international to support the affected areas.”
The top Syrian diplomat stressed that the illegal blockade has caused enormous humanitarian suffering and undermined basic human rights, including the right of the Syrian people to life, decent living, health, education and development in all forms.
On some countries in the Council seeking to impose politicized resolutions and mechanisms against independent countries, especially in the developing world, Mekdad said the measure is in violation of the UN Charter and would rob the Council of its credibility.
“These countries continued their policies based on politicization and double standards and turned a blind eye to the cries for help of the victims under the rubble under the severe shortage in rescue and relief equipment caused by the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria which affirms that these measures are in fact nothing but a tool of collective punishment and killing and they are not less dangerous than the earthquake,” he hastened to add.
The United Nations and Syria have denounced certain attempts to politicize the humanitarian response for earthquake victims in northwestern Syria.
The top Syrian diplomat stressed that Syria has always favored multilateral work in the field of human rights on the basis of the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and respect for sovereignty and national peculiarities, and is willing to work toward promoting universal respect for human rights on the basis of the principles of impartiality and objectivity and away from politicization and selectivity.
“The establishment of the Human Rights Council represented an opportunity for a new start in the collective work through a cooperative work based on sovereign equality among states and strengthening their capacities in accordance with their national priorities,” he asserted.
Hence, we stress that the Syrian Arab Republic continues its efforts to develop and strengthen the legislative and institutional frameworks related to the promotion and protection of human rights, and considers that a continuous national process based upon the national needs and priorities.”
The Syrian foreign minister also expressed his government’s appreciation to the countries and organizations that expressed solidarity with the quake-affected Syrians and extended a helping hand to them in the form of aid and assistance.
Iran urges immediate and unconditional removal of Western sanctions against quake-hit Syria.
Speaking at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Geir Pedersen, the United Nations special envoy for Syria, condemned attempts by certain countries to politicize the humanitarian response to the earthquake that caused massive destruction in the northwestern region of the country.
Pedersen said it was not the time “to play politics with crossings across borders or front lines … this is not the time for military action or violence.”
Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Bassam al-Sabbagh, also stressed that the Damascus government strongly opposes some countries’ attempts to politicize the humanitarian aid response.
Syria has been reeling under Western sanctions since 1979. The US and its Western allies imposed more such sanctions after 2011 when the country found itself in the grip of rampant foreign-backed militancy and terrorism.
The coercive measures intensified even further with Washington passing the Caesar Act in 2019, which targeted individuals and businesses that participated either directly or indirectly in Syria’s reconstruction efforts.
The restrictive measures have blocked imports of essential goods, affecting the Syrian people’s access to medical equipment, food, heating, gas, and electricity. The sanctions have effectively cut Syria off from the global economy, leaving it dependent on a handful of allied states such as Russia and Iran.
The 15th plane carrying Iran’s humanitarian aid to the Syrian quake victims landed in the northwestern city of Aleppo on Thursday. The consignment included 16 tons of humanitarian aid including medicines, foodstuff, and dried milk.
The UN says over five million people in Syria have been affected by the earthquake and need shelter, food, and medicine. The disaster has multiplied the suffering of Syrians who have endured years of foreign-backed war and western sanctions that left millions dead, displaced, and impoverished.