UN approves limited aid to Syria's north-west after vetoes

The UN has been delivering aid to war-ravaged Syria from across the border for the past six years. PHOTO: AFP

GENEVA (BLOOMBERG) - The United Nations Security Council approved a resolution authorising the renewal of one checkpoint for aid delivery to Syria after attempts this month to keep two cross-border entry points open were blocked by Russia and China.

Saturday's (July 11) resolution, drafted by Germany and Belgium, authorises the delivery of humanitarian aid from Turkey into Syria's rebel-held north-west for 12 months. It passed with 12 votes in favour and abstentions by Russia, China and the Dominican Republic.

The two border crossing points had been Bab al Hawa and Bab al Salam. The latter point will now be closed.

"We are disappointed that the Council was left with no choice but to approve a resolution that does not meet the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people," the British mission to the UN said in a statement after the vote, blaming Russia and China for putting "their own political calculations above saving human life".

"It reduces humanitarian access and puts lives at risk," the British mission said.

The UN has been delivering aid to war-ravaged Syria from across the border for the past six years, but its authorisation must be regularly renewed by the UN Security Council.

Russia has been working since late 2019 to bring the UN operation delivering goods from neighbouring countries to a gradual end, arguing that aid should flow through Damascus and President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Care, an anti-poverty group that works with Syrian refugees, said it was "deeply disappointed" by the move to scale back humanitarian assistance by having only one checkpoint available.

"The closure of the Bab Al Salam crossing will have far-reaching and long-lasting negative consequences for the Syrians who depend on food and medical assistance transported via this crossing by the UN," Ms Michelle Nunn, Care USA chief executive officer, said in an e-mailed statement.

The first Covid-19 case was confirmed this week in Idlib, in rebel-held north-west Syria, and "we fear that this decision will cost lives", Ms Nunn said.

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