Cross-border humanitarian aid to northwest Syria – not green-lit by Damascus – remains “essential,” the UN said Monday, as the measure was de facto extended for six months without a new Security Council vote.
The council had previously renewed the authorization allowing aid into rebel-held areas in the country’s northwest “for a period of six months… until 10 January 2022,” through the crossing at Bab al-Hawa on the Syrian border with Turkey.
The text provided for “an extension of an additional six months, that is, until 10th July 2022,” subject to a report by the UN Secretary-General.
For the West, the renewal to July had been interpreted as automatic, while Russia had raised the possibility of requesting a new Security Council vote, though it has not taken that step.
In his December report, UN chief Antonio Guterres had stressed the impossibility of replacing at this stage the cross-border mechanism for one that crossed front lines from Damascus.
Moscow favors this method as recognition of the Syrian government’s sovereignty over the whole country.
Aid through the Bab al-Hawa crossing primarily serves the roughly three million people living in the Idleb region, which remains outside Damascus’ control.
“The cross-border delivery of aid is essential,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said during his daily briefing.
“We need aid to be delivered through cross-border and through cross-line. Those are essential elements for us to meet the humanitarian needs of all Syrians.”
Asked about the lack of a new Security Council vote, he said “we would welcome any decision that would allow us to continue with this vital cross-border aid.”
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.