U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Samantha Power: Syrian crisis is not over

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power said on Tuesday that although plans to derail Syria's chemical weapons program are underway, the crisis is not over.

Since the joint mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the U.N. began on October 1, 21 of 23 declared chemical weapons production sites have been inspected and 39 of 41 facilities have been located. By October 31, Syria completed functional destruction of the equipment used to produce its chemical weapons. The OPCW-U.N. Joint Mission plans to ensure the declared sites are comprehensive and that the stockpiles of chemical weapons are properly destroyed.

While the August 21 chemical weapons attack, which killed approximately 1,400 Syrians, including more than 400 children, gained the U.N. access into Syria and progress toward the destruction of its chemical weapons program, attempts to conduct humanitarian missions within the nation have failed.

"There is nothing yet to celebrate," Power said. "On October 2, the Council spoke with one voice, issuing a strong Presidential Statement condemning the appalling levels of violence committed against all Syrians, including children. The Council urged Syrian authorities to facilitate the rapid expansion of humanitarian relief operations, including by lifting bureaucratic impediments to such operations. Unfortunately, the Assad regime has failed to comply with the requests of this Council."

Power said Syria has denied humanitarian organizations access to the country to provide aid to the Syrian people. Even the U.N. representatives already in the country on the OPCW-U.N. Joint Mission were denied the ability to run a humanitarian mission.

Syria's health care system has been crippled by the ongoing conflict. Approximately 70 percent of all Syria's hospitals and health care centers are inoperable or closed. In the city of Aleppo alone, a mere 36 doctors out of an original 5,000 remain.

Power asked that countries use the influence they hold to pressure Syria to bring an end to the conflict.

"This Council, and like-minded countries around the world, have to exert influence on all parties to end preventable suffering and the deaths of innocent civilians," Power said. "For this to happen, each of us has to use the leverage that we have over those that would deny aid or reject the terms of last month's Presidential Statement. We have seen what the Assad regime can do when it is held accountable, and indeed what this Council can do when it is united, as it was on the question of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. We must work with a similar sense of urgency to address the devastating, deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground."