After returning from a trip to Syrian refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley praised the generosity of the host countries. She also described for the Security Council the desperate situation in Syria:
“Overwhelmingly, the displaced Syrian men, women and children I spoke to want to go home. But tragically, the violence and brutality that led them to flee their homeland has continued since we last met. There is no peace in Syria, only continuing appalling suffering.”
She pointed to the atrocities committed by the Assad regime, including the ongoing imprisonment of tens of thousands of people subjected to torture and sexual violence.
She noted how Amnesty International has called the government-run Saydnaya prison near Damascus a “human slaughter house,” with survivors reporting that they were given a choice to kill friends and relatives or be killed themselves. In addition, there is evidence that a crematorium has been built in Saydnaya to dispose of bodies in order to cope with the horrifying rate of killings and destroy evidence of what is taking place behind its walls.
“This is an appalling discovery,” said Ambassador Haley:
“And even if they had no direct role in the construction of the crematorium, Russia and Iran have either aided in or passively looked away as the Assad regime commits atrocities that are reminiscent of history’s worst war crimes.”
Ambassador Haley applauded the attention UN Under-Secretary General Stephen O’Brien has given to the staggering impact of the conflict on Syria’s children, countless of whom have lost family and friends and witnessed firsthand the unspeakable horrors of war.
“Ultimately,” said Ambassador Haley, “the best and only way to truly support these kids is by ending the conflict and getting them the assistance they need…What they need is to return home. But they will never have a home to return to until there is peace in Syria.”
In addition to a political solution and a transition for Syrians to go home, Ambassador Haley said the focus of the Security Council must also be on development needs of host countries.
She noted that during a visit to a camp in Turkey, a refugee told her not to forget the Syrian people. That charge, Ambassador Haley told the Security Council, “must be our constant, overriding and unfaltering purpose.”