Comments by Agshin Mehdiyev, Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the U.N., regarding the statement by the President of the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria

- As you are aware, we have been privileged to begin our presidency of the Security Council with the adoption today of the presidential statement on the humanitarian situation in Syria (S/PRST/2013/15).

- Indeed, facts speak for themselves in characterizing the current humanitarian situation in Syria as catastrophe and disaster, with millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, tens of thousand people killed during the conflict and serious obstacles the humanitarian agencies are facing in reaching those in need for assistance.

- The efforts of the neighboring countries in accommodating Syrian refugees over the duration of the conflict must be commended. At the same time, their concerns and relevant appeals for assistance in this regard must be met with due attention.

- Therefore, the adoption of the presidential statement is very important, and we hope the relevant parties will make right conclusions from what the Council unambiguously stated.

- Azerbaijan from very beginning has shared the view of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and other partners on the need for a greater policy attention to the humanitarian situation in Syria, particularly with a view to ensuring respect for international humanitarian law and access by humanitarian actors to those in need of assistance in Syria.

- At the same time, the Syrian crisis has diverse impact, and its consequences are being experienced in other regions and countries as well. Thus, we continue receiving the reports testifying to purposeful attempts aimed at encouraging some categories of Syrian citizens to move to other conflict-affected areas, and even to settle in the territories under foreign military occupation, from which their original population was earlier forced to leave. Needless to say that such actions constitute a clear violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

- Of course, I have in mind the actions undertaken by Armenia with a view to relocating the Syrian citizens of Armenian origin in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Indeed, while the international community is focused on searching for ways out of the Syrian crisis, the suffering facing the people of that country are being utilized to further complicate the situation and peace efforts in another region. No doubt, attempts to address the needs of refugees from Syria at the expense of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani displaced persons, living with the hope of returning to their homes, are illegal and cannot be tolerated nor accepted under any circumstances.

- It is therefore critically important that, on our proposal, the presidential statement adopted earlier today reaffirmed the Council's commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of not only Syria, but also of all other States affected by the Syrian conflict, as well as recalled that all obligations under international humanitarian law must be respected in all circumstances.

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