The international community cannot leave the Syria tragedy on Turkey’s shoulders, the country’s envoy to the United Nations said Tuesday, as the Syrian war nears its 10th anniversary.
Feridun Sinirlioğlu spoke at a U.N. General Assembly panel on the human rights situation in Syria and reiterated that Turkey hosts 4 million Syrian migrants who have fled a violent crackdown by the Bashar Assad regime in March 2011.
He said Turkey, with 5 million Syrians living on its borders, is protecting 9 million Syrians in total.
“The international community cannot turn its back on this tragedy and leave it only on our shoulders,” said Sinirlioğlu. “Three million people in the northwest rely entirely on lifeline U.N. cross-border operations conducted from Turkey.”
The Turkish envoy also called for the opening of additional crossing points to enable the U.N. to reach those in need through direct routes.
“This is not a political matter. It is a humanitarian urgency. So, be courageous and extend your helping hand to the Syrian people,” he added.
At his opening remarks of the panel, U.N. General Assembly President Volkan Bozkır said 10 years on, the Syrian conflict and its effects are far from over.
“We may have become familiar with the images of death and destruction, but we must not become immune,” said Bozkır.
“This is not a natural disaster. There is a human hand behind this catastrophe.”
In another statement, the United States also said Tuesday that it will continue to work with Turkey to achieve common interests in Syria.
Responding to a question from Anadolu Agency (AA) on whether the Joe Biden administration will cooperate with Turkey on Idlib and the humanitarian situation there, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said Washington “certainly” has common interests with its Turkish partners.
“We have shared interests with Turkey, specifically when it comes to Syria. We will continue to work with Turkey, and to work constructively with Turkey to achieve our common interests, when it comes to Syria, going forward,” said Price.
Idlib falls within a de-escalation zone forged under an agreement between Turkey and Russia. The area has been the subject of multiple cease-fire understandings which have frequently been violated by the Assad regime and its allies.
On Monday, Price issued a statement remembering the 33 Turkish troops killed last year in an airstrike by Syrian regime forces and said the U.S. stands with its NATO ally Turkey.