UN stresses need to increase border crossings for aid in Syria

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – UN Security Council would vote on cross-border aid mechanism to Syria in July, said Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, stressing the need to increase the number of crossing points.

In a press briefing on June 13, Dujarric added that more crossing points are better, highlighting the importance of continuing “the cross-line operations.”

In July 2014, the UN Security Council adopted the Resolution 2165 which authorized the UN to deliver cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria through Jordan, Turkey and Iraq without the consent of the Syrian government.

Through the adoption of resolution 2165, the 15-member body of the UN Security Council, including Russia and China, decided that UN agencies and humanitarian partners could, with notification to the Syrian authorities, use the border crossings at Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Hawa with Turkey, al Ya’rubiyah (Tel Kocher) with Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), and al-Ramtha with Jordan in addition to those already in use, “to ensure that assistance, including medical and surgical supplies, reached people in need throughout Syria through the most direct routes”.  

“We used to have many more delivery points. They were reduced. That was a decision of the Security Council. We, of course, can only abide by it and work with it,” Dujarric added.

However, since July 10, 2020, Bab al-Hawa has been the only crossing kept open by the resolution 2533 (2020), while the use of the others was curtailed.  

Dujarric further explained, “These cross-border deliveries are critical for the health and survival of so many Syrian men, women and children.”

By July 10, the mechanism of cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria, which was approved by the UN Security Council last year, expires.

According to UN data, 14.6 million Syrians are now dependent on humanitarian assistance, the highest ever recorded. Across Syria, 12 million people face acute food insecurity – a staggering 51 percent increase since 2019.

Russian threat

Earlier this year, Russia threatened to prevent the entry of humanitarian aid into northwest Syria through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey.

The Russian deputy permanent representative to the United Nations (UN), Dmitry Polyanskiy, stated that his country “will not turn a blind eye to the failure of Western countries to comply with the resolution on cross-border humanitarian aid in Syria.”

“This July, we will urge the UN Security Council to expand access to meet the soaring needs of millions of Syrians who have already suffered enough,” the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on May 9.

In July 2020, the al-Ya’rubiyah (Tel Kocher) border crossing, which is the only point of the areas of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), was closed to UN humanitarian access due to the Russian-Chinese veto, which exacerbated the challenges facing the region, according to civil organizations. 

Despite calls by organizations and member states of the UN for re-authorization, the repeated Russian-Chinese veto led to rejection or amendment of the proposal, sometimes even before voting. 

The closure of the crossing deprived residents of Syria’s northeast of aid estimated at $26.8 million, due to the cessation of support for many organizations operating in the region.

Reporting by Saya Muhammad