UN Security Council extends cross-border aid delivery in Syria for another six months


The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday agreed to extend for another six months the cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid from Turkey to the northwestern region of Syria, a program that expired on Sunday.

The resolution, which was drafted by Ireland and Norway, has finally been adopted after Russia — which had voted against it over the weekend — gave the go-ahead to the document. Initially, however, the text called for a one-year extension of the cross-border delivery of assistance to the country, which has been at war for eleven years.

Now, after days of deadlock, the Security Council has managed to approve the measure, which allows aid to be delivered to millions of people in Syria. For Russia, which has conditioned the extension to only six months, it is a «solution to break the impasse» and leaves the door open to another possible extension.

In addition, the resolution urges the UN Secretary General to make a special report on the humanitarian situation in the country. Aid is usually distributed from Turkey to the Syrian region of Idlib and cross-border delivery was first established in 2014.

The Russian government, however, has repeatedly advocated closing Bab al Hawa, the last of the four humanitarian border crossings that had once been opened to facilitate aid distribution.

In the event that the mandate was not resumed, the UN could only have delivered this aid through the Syrian government itself, something that has been criticized by the international community as this could strengthen the position of President Bashar Al Assad vis-à-vis his rivals.

The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has insisted that this aid is «essential» for the population of Idlib, as the organization has collected in a statement. «It is a matter of life and death for many of them,» he said.

However, he has recalled that the UN «asked for a one-year renewal». «The Security Council has approved another six months, but I really hope that after this period of time the mandate will be renewed,» he said.

The text also met with the abstention of countries such as the United States, France and the United Kingdom, which were asking for a resolution that would provide for an automatic extension of another six months after half a year has elapsed.

Some 4.4 million people live in northwestern Syria, according to UN figures, which estimate that more than half are internally displaced people who have been living in camps for years. Of the total, some 4.1 million are in need of humanitarian aid.

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