Conflicts & War

UN renews aid to Syria through one crossing point only

United Nations, July 12 (efe-epa).- The United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to the rebel-held northwest Syria through just one border crossing from Turkey.

The approval on Saturday came after previous efforts to allow aid through more border crossing points were thwarted by the veto-wielding members, Russia and China.

The resolution to renew the six-year-long humanitarian cross-border aid program that expired on Friday was passed by 12-0 votes with three abstentions — China, Russia and the Dominican Republic.

The aid to be delivered from UN-operated Bab al-Hawa to Idlib “will help ensure humanitarian assistance for 2.8 million people-in-need in the northwest is sustained until July next year,” Secretary-General António Guterres said.

“This re-authorization (of) cross-border humanitarian assistance remains a lifeline for millions of people-in-need in the area and beyond. The Secretary-General reiterates his call on all parties to the conflict to ensure humanitarian access to all people in need in accordance with international humanitarian law,” said a statement from Guterres’ spokesperson.

The approval follows tough negotiations and four different proposals that were vetoed by China and Russia.

The two permanent members of the UN Security Council Russia argued that aid should be delivered from within the country across conflict lines, and only one crossing point was needed since “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected”.

Russia had in January vetoed a resolution that called for four crossings to opened and forced the Security Council to pass a resolution that reduced the aid delivery to just two points on the border with Turkey: Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa.

The UN Security Council continued the intense talks on Saturday to try to extend the use of various border points for humanitarian aid, despite the deadline this Friday, given that millions of people depend on the aid mechanism.

A majority of countries, including the United States, had proposed that both crossings should be extended with a third point, Al Yarubiyah, also opened on the northeast border with Iraq. The resolution for two points was sponsored by Belgium and Germany.

The latest resolution, which was finally approved, keeps Bab al-Hawa open for 12 months, but it shut down Bab al-Salam which leaves no border crossing open in the northeast.

Some 1.3 million people, including 800 000 displaced Syrians, live in Aleppo who received humanitarian aid through the Bab al-Salam crossing, Belgium and Germany said in a joint statement that, adding that their aid has now been cut off.

“One border crossing is not enough, but no border crossings would have left the fate of an entire region in question,” they said.

Belgian Ambassador to the UN Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve said it was a “sad day” for the Syrians, since, after several days of voting, the use of the Bab al-Salam crossing, estimated to reach aid to more than 1.3 million Syrians, or Al Yarubiyah.

He said 1.3 million people, including 500,000 children, would be deprived of aid due to the closure of the Bab al-Salam crossing.

The diplomat, however, said the use of Bab al Hawa for a year would provide better planning capacity, and “that is the only good thing today.

US representative to the UN, Kelly Craft, noted that it was not the resolution that her country and most of the UNSC members countries had fought for.

She said the resolution had left them “bitterly disappointed” since the loss of the border point for aid delivery is “unacceptable” and runs a risk to the health and well-being of millions of Syrians.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, noted that his country had been in favor of humanitarian aid in Syria in a “consistent” manner.

He said the areas that have not been approved for aid delivery were “controlled by international terrorists and fighters and it’s impossible to monitor.”

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