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Thank you Mr. President.
The EU thanks the Commission of Inquiry for its work and for presenting their oral update as well as for the different conference papers presented in the last months. The EU reiterates its call to the Syrian regime to cooperate with the Commission and grant it unhindered access.
The EU condemns in the strongest terms all attacks against civilian populations, and civilian infrastructure, hospitals and schools. The continued deliberate denial and obstruction of humanitarian access to those in need is a blatant violation of international humanitarian principles and must stop. The EU will continue intensive humanitarian diplomacy to explore all options to improve access to and protection of the people in need, including persons belonging to national, religious and ethnic minorities, as well as to promote humanitarian principles for the delivery of aid to the civilian population.
In this regard, on 24-25 April 2018, the EU and the UN co-chaired the second Brussels Conference on "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region", whose overarching objective was to maintain the attention of the international community to the Syrian conflict and enhance support for the populations affected. More specifically, the aims of the Conference were three-fold: to reiterate support to the UN-led political process in Geneva in line with UNSC resolution 2254, to address the worsening humanitarian situation inside Syria, and to restate the EU's and the international community's continued commitment to provide support to the neighbouring countries hosting more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees.
The EU calls upon all parties to release all persons who are detained contrary to International Humanitarian Law and of the political detainees held mostly in the regime's prisons as well as detention centres, it also calls for information on cases of forced disappearances. Access to all detention facilities in Syria should be granted to independent monitors.
The EU reiterates its strong condemnation of the repeated use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta and other areas by the Syrian regime and by Da'esh, as confirmed by the OPCW/UN Joint Investigative Mechanism and reported by the CoI.
The Syrian regime bears the overwhelming responsibility for the catastrophic humanitarian situation and the suffering of the Syria people. All those responsible for breaches of international law, in particular of international humanitarian law and human rights law, some of which may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, must be held accountable. Impunity for such crimes is unacceptable. Thus, the EU will continue to support the documentation of human rights violations and efforts to gather evidence in view of future legal action. In this respect, the EU supports the important role of the CoI and the IIIM in ensuring accountability in Syria. The EU reiterates its call to have the situation in Syria referred to the International Criminal Court.
Sexual and gender-based violence against women, girls, men and boys has been a persistent issue in Syria. How can we contribute to address the physical and psychological harm that survivors of sexual and gender-based violence have endured?