New York, 29 March 2023 (TDI): The European Union (EU) delivered a statement at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Interactive Dialogues on missing persons in Syria.

The statement was delivered by Olof Skoog, Ambassador, and Head of the EU Delegation. The Ambassador expressed his gratitude on behalf of the EU member states for convening the interactive dialogue.

The statement was also made on behalf of candidate countries namely Countries Türkiye, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Likewise, it was also on behalf of the potential candidate country; Georgia, as well as Andorra, Monaco, and San Marino.

The statement began with the Ambassador extending condolences to the people of Syria, following the deadly earthquakes of February.

The testing time in Syria has highlighted the pressing need for safe, expedited, and unrestricted aid disbursement to all intended recipients across Syria.

The sustainable access to humanitarian organizations along with unhindered efforts to find the missing Syrians is a matter of humanitarian imperative.

The EU emphasized establishing a new body aimed at clarifying the fate and whereabouts of all missing Syrians. The new body should identify the human remains and provide adequate support to families.

The matter should be dealt with with utmost urgency. Syrian families and civil society organizations across Syria and the Syrian diaspora have been urging authorities to take concrete measures in this regard for years now.

Therefore, the EU backs the establishment of such an independent international body. The international body will help alleviate the pain of families who have been living in utter suspense & despair since their loved ones went missing and their fate unknown.

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The Ambassador recognized the tremendous range of work dedicated to keeping track of missing Syrians by Syrian civil society organizations as well as the International Commission for Missing Persons, the ICRC, and many others.

The new body should be based on the efforts carried out under such initiatives. It should ensure coherence and articulate a clear added value.

The EU and its Member States have supported humanitarian work for many years and intend to continue to support it.

The Ambassador commended the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in its preparatory work. He appreciated its efforts of involving other actors in discussions.

The new body will bring together and consolidate all strenuous efforts and provide a road map in tracing the missing persons of this terrible conflict.

The independent body will be neutral working for a humanitarian cause. It will reassure all relatives of missing persons that the international community is resolute to help and assist them.

It is equally important and imperative to take families, victims, and Syrian organizations on board to establish the operative mechanism of the body from the beginning. The body should be transparent.

The impartial body should engage with all stakeholders involved on the ground and ensure the best possible outcomes.

The Ambassador assured the UN of its active interest in the initiative. It reaffirmed engaging constructively in discussions and formulating strategies for the future.

The EU aims to work together collaboratively in favor of a shared vision. It is committed to healing a few of the many human wounds of twelve years of conflict-ridden Syrians.