UN Secretary-General urges Security Council to extend authorisation of relief delivery from Turkey to Syria’s opposition-controlled northwest.
Russia and China have proposed that more aid be given from within the country
prompting opposition fears food and other aid will be seized by the government.
“We cannot give up on the people of Syria,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Monday, urging the council to extend its authorisation of relief delivery from Turkey to millions of people in need in northwest Syria.
On July 10, the UN mandate allowing supply from Turkey to Syria’s opposition-controlled northwest ends.
An ally of Syria Russia claims that Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are being violated by the long-running operation. It proposes that more aid be given from within the country, prompting opposition fears that food and other aid will be seized by the government.
Guterres said that the UN had carried out five such deliveries — known as cross-line — into the opposition-controlled northwest in the previous year, but that they were not “at the level of the opposition.”
“I humbly request that the members of the council retain their agreement on allowing cross-border operations,” he said. “It is a moral imperative to alleviate the suffering and vulnerability of the 4.1 million people who require assistance and protection in the region.”
Women and children, according to Guterres, account for 80 percent of those in need in northwest Syria. Under the UN mission, which Guterres requested be extended for another year, about 800 trucks a month carry aid from Turkey.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, told the council earlier this month that it had to make a “life or death decision” and that more aid, not less, was needed.
“Cross-border help alone will not be enough to fulfil the urgent needs on the ground.”
In 2014, the UN Security Council approved humanitarian aid delivery through Iraq, Jordan, and two sites in Turkey into opposition-held territories of Syria. However, veto powers Russia and China have narrowed the Turkish border to just one point.
Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador, called the UN’s efforts to provide aid to the northwest of Syria from within the nation “pitiful.”
The cross-border aid operation, according to China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun, was a “exceptional arrangement,” and a deadline to cease it and transition to deliveries from within the country needed to be agreed upon.
“Can anyone who respects human life and the pillars of the UN Charter afford to disrupt such a critical system?” argued Turkey’s UN Ambassador Feridun Hadi Sinirlioglu.