I thank the Deputy-Secretary-General Ms. Mohammed, Mr. Mardini and Mrs. Grosjean for their insightful briefings. My appreciations go to the French Presidency for bringing this crucial topic to the Council's attention.
Every day, millions of civilians are bearing the brunt of ongoing armed conflicts. They face the dire situation of compromised access to essential services and means for their survival, such as water, food, shelter, sanitation and health care. The COVID-19 pandemic, sanctions and counter-terrorism measures have put further stress on humanitarian activities. It is estimated that in 2021, 235 million civilians rely on life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection. Without the support of humanitarian workers, their sufferings are bound to get worse.
While aid workers and United Nations personnel are risking their lives assisting those in need, they are exposed to widespread and increasing security threat. From the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Mali to Somalia, aid workers have lost their lives or faced increased risk of abduction, armed robbery and physical violence.
We condemn in the strongest terms such cowardly and outrageous attacks and violence. We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to humanitarian workers for their courage and dedication to alleviate the suffering of people affected by armed conflicts. We express our deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their loved ones in the course of providing humanitarian assistance to those in need.
We believe that there are things we should do to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian workers.
Full compliance with obligations under international humanitarian law is a robust preventive measure to protect humanitarian workers. This is incumbent upon all parties to armed conflict including States and non-state armed groups. These obligations include, in particular, the principle of distinction and the obligation to refrain from attacking, destroying or rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. Infrastructure critical to the delivery of humanitarian assistance and food systems must be protected. We welcome measures to integrate international humanitarian law obligations in domestic framework and raise the awareness of armed forces and non-state actors regarding obligations applicable in their conduct of hostilities.
Attacks on humanitarian workers and UN personnel might constitute war crimes. It is disturbing that the vast majority of victims are national humanitarian staff as they work to save their own people. Such violations must be addressed appropriately and perpetrators must be brought to justice in accordance with the UN Charter, international and national laws.
Humanitarian action is based on the paramount principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence. Upholding these principles is key to build trust and acceptance by the host community and parties to armed conflict, which is critical to guaranteeing the safety and security and full, immediate, safe and unhindered humanitarian access. The UN Charter, including the principles of sovereignty and non-interference, and the law of the host State must be fully respected. Engagement and dialogue between humanitarian organizations and the host State can help better understand social and cultural contexts and manage risk to humanitarian activities.
Much important as it is, in the long run, humanitarian assistance cannot replace a comprehensive approach to build national capacity. The primary responsibility to protect civilians rests with the State. We should make every effort to enhance local resilience, reduce humanitarian needs and address the underlying root causes of armed conflicts. In resolution 2575, the Council recognizes the need to build back better and provide more resilient essential services to the civilian population in post-conflict situation. All parties should join efforts to implement concrete and meaningful steps to peace and recovery.
Protecting the civilians is one of the core issues on the Council's agenda. It should mobilize every tool at its disposal to respond to civilians' sufferings, including through preventing attacks against humanitarian workers and ensuring humanitarian access. We continue to stress the paramount importance of conflict prevention and peace building. We believe there is ample room for regional organisations to play a leading role in promoting preventive diplomacy and confidence-building measures.
I thank you./.