The United Nations has notified the opposition group in control of northern and northwestern Syria that the aid entry mechanism via the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey has been extended for an additional six months, following approval from the Syrian state.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Action in Idleb, representing the Syrian opposition, released a statement confirming the extension. “On Friday, January 12, 2024, we were informed by the United Nations that the aid entry mechanism through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey has been extended for an additional six months, effective from January 13 to July 13, 2024.”
In addition to the extension of aid delivery through Bab al-Hawa, the entry of aid through Bab al-Salama and al-Rai crossings will continue for an additional month under the fourth mandate until February 13, 2024.
A diplomatic note from the Syrian mission to the United Nations, dated January 12th, conveyed that “the Damascus government will prolong the authorization given to the United Nations for using the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey to deliver humanitarian aid to northwestern Syria until July 13.”
Reports suggest that the United Nations is actively pursuing a permanent extension of the aid transportation mechanism through the Bab al-Hawa crossing, aiming to convince Damascus, with discussions leaning towards a longer-term commitment rather than specifying periods of three or six months.
Last July, Bassam Sabbagh, the Syrian representative to the United Nations, announced, “Damascus has autonomously decided to permit the United Nations and its agencies to utilize the Bab al-Hawa crossing for delivering humanitarian aid to civilians in need in northwestern Syria. This cooperation with the Syrian government is for a duration of six months, beginning from July 13,” as reported by AFP.
However, Damascus remains critical of the aid entry mechanism through these crossings. In a statement at a Security Council meeting, Bassam Sabbagh emphasized, “The insistence on continuing this mechanism, marred by numerous defects and irregularities, reflects blatant selectivity and clear discrimination among Syrians who deserve to receive humanitarian aid.”
Furthermore, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, accused the Deputy UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, David Cardin, of closely cooperating with armed factions in Idleb. Nebenzia stated, “The Syrian armed groups in Idleb have established close cooperation, somewhat fruitfully, with Mr. David Cardin, the United Nations Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, who happens to be a British national.” Nebenzia noted that Russia rejected a decision to channel humanitarian aid to northern Syria through Turkish territory without passing through Damascus.
This article was translated and 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.