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Security Council: Syria cross-border aid under threat

Security Council: Syria cross-border aid under threat, as deadline nears

10 January 2020


A six-year-long UN operation that delivers aid across the Syrian border will expire at midnight unless the divided UN Security Council can agree later on Friday to extend it.

As Council members met to consider re-authorizing cross-border humanitarian aid at the meeting on Friday afternoon, the UN noted earlier that more than three million Syrians depended on aid trucked in from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.

“To put it very simply, there is no alternative to reaching the people we need to reach in the northwest and northeast [of Syria] without the cross-border" operation, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Thursday at UN Headquarters.

And as humanitarian needs continue to intensify in north-west Idlib province, the aid deliveries across the Turkish border are particularly crucial.

A Council meeting was due to begin in the chamber at 3.30pm, but delegates and officials left the room an hour later.

Negotiating cross-border humanitarian aid

An upsurge in hostilities in north-west Syria, has displaced some 300,000 people since 12 December.

Meanwhile, against the backdrop of new Council members joining the peace and security body in the New Year, negotiations have been ongoing with Permament Members the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France meeting four times since last week, without reaching a compromise.

The main point of contention, according to news reports, has revolved around the Al Yarubiyah crossing.

Resolution sponsors Germany, Belgium and Kuwait have pushed for the continued delivery of aid through two crossing points in Turkey and one in Iraq.

But the competing resolution from Russia, Syria’s closest ally on the Council, advocates the closure of the Al Yarubiyah crossing in Iraq.

The UN cross-border aid delivery mechanism was first established in 2014 through resolution 2165. Its mandate was most recently renewed in resolution 2449 of 2018, to expire in a matter of hours.

Secretary-General António Guterres has stressed that if the authorization is not agreed to on Friday, the UN border operation in Syria will immediately cease.

In that case, a new resolution providing authorization for the mechanism would be needed for it to operate again.

‘An immediate end of aid’

Last Friday, Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Council in closed consultations on developments in Idlib.

During the meeting, several members cited the province’s deteriorating humanitarian situation to illustrate the urgent need to renew the cross-border aid mechanism before it expires.

And in November, Mr. Lowcock had told the Chamber that four million people across northern Syria were supported by UN cross-border humanitarian assistance.

“Without the cross-border operation, we would see an immediate end of aid supporting millions of civilians”, he had said.

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