Syria: UN chief welcomes Security Council extension of vital cross-border aid operation

Trucks carrying food assistance cross the Turkish border into Syria. (file photo)
OCHA/David Swanson
Trucks carrying food assistance cross the Turkish border into Syria. (file photo)
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Secretary-General António Guterres said via his Spokesperson, that the authorization to continue using the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, due to expire on Saturday, was essential, as it “remains a lifeline for millions of people in the area, and beyond.”

Needs increasing

“However, needs continue to outstrip the response”, the statement continued. “As the Secretary-General has highlighted to the Council, with additional crossings and expanded funding, the United Nations could do more to help the rising number of people in need.”

The compromise resolution after weeks of delay, emerged from discussions on Friday morning, and was unanimously adopted. It calls for a “substantive” UN report to be provided on aid access across the Syria-Turkish border at Bab al-Hawa, after six months, with a focus on “transparency in operations, and progress on cross-line access in meeting humanitarian needs”.

However, the operation will not depend on reauthorization in January, and can extend through to July next year.

‘Complex humanitarian emergency’

The resolution calls on Member States “to respond with practical steps to address the urgent needs of the Syrian people, in light of the profound socio-economic and humanitarian impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Syria, as a country in situation of complex humanitarian emergency”.

The statement from the UN chief stated that the UN would continue to engage with all parties to the brutal ten year conflict, “to also facilitate crossline convoys. They are critical for the expansion of the overall response as humanitarian needs continue to grow.

“The Secretary-General reiterates his call on all parties to the conflict to ensure humanitarian access to all people in need in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

‘Heart-breaking’ suffering

In a statement released earlier in the day, the UN Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Mark Cutts, said that people across Syria “are worse off than at any time since the conflict began 10 years ago.

The suffering is heart breaking in the northwest, where millions of people, most of them women and children, have been trapped along the border with Turkey in an active war zone.”

More than 1,000 trucks of humanitarian supplies cross the border every month said Mr. Cutts, and when one million people were displaced last year in the northwest, humanitarian workers were able to provide them with food, medicine, protection and shelter.

In May, 26,000 people received their first COVID-19 vaccination thanks to the border crossing, he added.

“We can only hope that one day soon there will be a political solution to the conflict in Syria”, said the aid coordinator, “meanwhile, we can save lives through vital cross-border access. By renewing authorization before it runs out this 10 July, the Security Council will ensure that millions of civilians trapped in a war zone continue to get the help they so desperately need”, he added.

© UN News (2021) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: UN News