New York - Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), issued a stark reminder of the scale of humanitarian suffering Syrian civilians still experience and the future challenge of protecting people as they return. In a speech to the at the UN General Assembly High-Level on Syria, Mr. Maurer said:
"While the international community will have to answer difficult questions about the long-term reconstruction of Syria and the political conditions, humanitarians still need to respond to people's needs and their wish to live with dignity. They cannot wait for political consensus."
Mr. Maurer raised humanitarian consequences of the devastating impacts of urban warfare and concerns about returns. ICRC figures that show across four governorates in Iraq and Syria urban offensives have led to eight times more conflict related civilian deaths than in other areas over the past year.
"Humanitarian action for people in Syria should not be held hostage to controversies about return," Mr. Maurer said. "The legal situation is clear: people who have been forcefully displaced have a right to return in safety and dignity. They also have a right not to be returned to situations where their rights are at risk. We cannot forget that the conditions for IDPs and refugees to return do not merely depend on repaired water systems, but on safety and respect for their rights."
The High-Level Event on Syria was hosted by the European Commission. Ms. Federica Mogherini, High Representative/Vice President of the European Commission, and Commissioner Christos Stylianides co-chaired the event. UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, Under-Secretary General for UN OCHA Mark Lowcock, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filipo Grande.
See full remarks at https://www.icrc.org/en/person/peter-maurer