First of all, allow me to congratulate the Governments of the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway and Kuwait, as well as the United Nations, on the organization of this timely and important conference.
The numbers resulting from the conflict in Syria are well known to all of us: a death toll too great to be overlooked and a humanitarian drama that has turned far too many average Syrian citizens into victims for the international community to ignore. Not to mention an entire generation of Syrian children and youth left out without an education, deprived of aspirations and dreams. This is a human tragedy of epic proportions, one that affects all of humanity.
That is why I hereby announce that Brazil is channeling over 1.3 million dollars to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with the purpose of alleviating the plight and the suffering of Syrian refugees in the neighboring countries and elsewhere. Furthermore, Brazil has purchased 1.85 million dollars' worth of food supplies – roughly 4.500 tons of rice – which will hopefully help improve food security for refugees and internally displaced people in the Levant. In spite of the fiscal and budgetary adjustment my Government is currently carrying out, Brazil sees humanitarian assistance to those in need as a responsibility we cannot shy away from.
Helping those suffering from war, terrorism and chaos is one side of the coin. The other one is giving shelter to those trying to run away from such ordeal. Brazil’s humanitarian visa policy, which was extended for two additional years last September, has allowed for more than 2,000 people affected by the conflict in Syria to seek refuge in Brazil since 2013. Another 7,000 of such visas have already been issued, allowing those who have applied for it to safely arrive at Brazilian shores.
As the home of the largest Syrian diaspora in the world, a land that has offered safe haven for people fleeing the Levant for over a century now, a country that has been shaped by the contribution of immigrants and their descendants, including over 4 million Brazilians of Syrian ascent, Brazil has opened its arms to receive those fleeing from the conflict in Syria and from the threat of terrorism.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our efforts today will have limited impact if a meaningful political solution is not reached soon enough. Last December, for the very first time since the beginning of the conflict in Syria five years ago, the UN Security Council formally acknowledged that there cannot be a military solution for the Syrian crisis. Brazil has long advocated that a political solution is the only road there is. We welcome Resolution 2254 and encourage all key stakeholders to follow the roadmap outlined therein. We also welcome Resolution 2258 and urge concerned actors to comply with international humanitarian law and to provide safe, full and unimpeded access to humanitarian agencies on the ground.
The international community must be prepared to fully support the mediation efforts led by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, Staffan di Mistura, and to further encourage the intra-Syrian dialogue, in spite of the many obstacles and shortcomings it faces.
Helping Syrians to broker a political solution; stemming the bloodshed; alleviating the hardship caused by war; keeping Syria united; fighting and preventing terrorism; rebuilding a country torn-apart: these are the tasks ahead. Daunting for sure, but unavoidable. You must rest assured that Brazil will shoulder its share of responsibility for carrying out the momentous collective endeavor that lies ahead of us.
Thank you very much.