On July 11, 2020, the UN Security Council approved a resolution authorizing humanitarian aid delivery to Syria’s mainly rebel-held northwest from Turkey through just one crossing point.
On July 10 a divided U.N. Security Council had failed for a second time to agree on extending humanitarian aid deliveries to Syria’s mainly rebel-held northwest from Turkey as the current UN mandate was ending.
Is a victory for Russia in cutting another crossing that the U.N. and aid groups have called critical.
Russia said that aid should be delivered from within the country across conflict lines and just one crossing point is needed.
Two crossing points were essential to get aid to the needy people in the northwest, especially with the first case of COVID-19 recently reported in the region, said the UN and humanitarian groups argued unsuccessfully, along with the vast majority of the UN Security Council.
David MILIBAND, the president of the International Rescue Committee, said on July 10 that reducing aid deliveries to just one crossing point “would cut essential health supplies to one million people, and leave the UN unable to scale up in response both to COVID-19 and deteriorating food security”.
“Today is yet another example of the age of impunity, where two countries can veto with full knowledge, but utter disregard, for the impact it will have on civilian lives, all against the backdrop of an unprecedented and devastating global pandemic,” MILIBRAND said.
The vote was 12-0, with Russia, China, and the Dominican Republic abstaining — Russia most likely because two amendments it proposed were rejected.
The vote on July 11 capped a week of a high-stakes rivalry between Russia and China, and the 13 other council members who voted twice to maintain the two crossings from Turkey that were in operation until their mandate ended on July 10.
Both times, Russia and China vetoed the resolutions — the 15th and 16th veto by Russia of a Syria resolution since the conflict began in 2011 and the ninth and 10th by China.
Policy Director Susannah SIRKIN from “Physicians for Human Rights” said ahead of the vote that Russia and China’s “cynical and cruel maneuvering” to cut off life-saving aid using their veto power and seeking to close one critical border crossing “is one more tragic example of the broken U.N. humanitarian system, and defamation of its Charter”.
Russia, in two resolutions this week that failed to get the minimum nine “yes” votes needed for adoption, raised the issue of US and EU sanctions against Syria and their negative impact on Syria’s humanitarian situation.
US and EU objected to this allegation, saying their sanctions provide humanitarian exemptions.
The amendment proposed by Russia to the latest draft resolution asked UN Secretary-General Antonio GUTERRES to include information in his reports to the council every 60 days on the “direct and indirect humanitarian impact of unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria”. That amendment was soundly defeated with just five countries voting in favor, six against and four abstentions.
A Chinese amendment that would recognize measures proposed by GUTERRES concerning the response to “the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to conflict-affected areas, in particular, his appeal for an immediate global cease-fire” also failed.
Kelly CRAFT, the US Ambassador tweeted Friday: “Russia & China are using politics to prop up the Assad regime while more than 3 million people are in desperate need of aid. We cannot allow the Bab al-Salaam border crossing, where 30 percent of UNICEF’s aid enters Syria, to close. The lives of 500.000 children are at risk”.
Dmitry POLYANSKY, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador tweeted on July 9 that the Bab Al-Hawa crossing “accounts for more than 85% of the total volume of operations”. “We categorically reject claims that Russia wants to stop humanitarian deliveries to the Syrian population in need”.
This article was edited using the data from the Apnews.com, Washingtonpost.com, and Thehour.com.