The United Nations provides important aid across the border from Turkey into northern Syria
On Monday, the United Nations extended a resolution allowing the use of the Bab al-Hawa border crossing through Turkey to deliver humanitarian aid to northwestern Syria, which is the only remaining route available to the besieged region.
The long-term relief operation has been under way since 2014.
The 15-member Security Council unanimously adopted the resolution, allowing humanitarian aid to reach some 4 million people until July 10. Syria’s ally Russia – in a surprising move – endorsed the resolution.
About 15.3 million people will need humanitarian protection and assistance in 2023, the highest level since the conflict began in 2011, according to the United Nations.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry, in a written statement, welcomed the UN decision.
“The UN mechanism plays a vital role in delivering urgent humanitarian aid to 4.1 million people in need in this region,” the statement said.
“The scale of the humanitarian crisis in northwest Syria and regional stability necessitate the maintenance of the UN mechanism in the long term. Turkey, which has maintained its cooperation with the international community to this end, will continue to do so in the future.” added.
All eyes were on Russia, which in the past has abstained from voting or vetoed decisions on cross-border aid deliveries. It sought to replace humanitarian aid crossing the Turkish border into northwestern Idlib province with convoys from government-held areas across conflict lines.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the already dire humanitarian situation in Syria is getting worse, and if aid shipments from Turkey to northwest Idlib are not renewed, millions of Syrians may not survive the winter.
Guterres said deliveries have increased across conflict lines within the country, but said they cannot substitute for “the scale or scope of a massive UN operation across borders.” On Sunday, a convoy of 18 trucks entered the Idlib region across the front lines controlled by the Syrian government forces.
The resolution recorded the Security Council as “determining that the devastating humanitarian situation in Syria continues to constitute a threat to peace and security in the region.”
In July, the council approved a resolution extending the delivery of humanitarian aid to Idlib, which is home to 4.1 million people. Many of the people who sought refuge in the region have been internally displaced by the nearly 12-year-old conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.
In addition to pressing for more aid deliveries across the front lines, Russia has also pushed for early recovery projects in Syria.
Guterres said in the December report that at least 374 early recovery projects have been implemented across the country since January 2021, directly benefiting more than 665,000 people, but he said “further expansion” is needed.
The resolution encourages efforts to improve aid delivery across the front lines and calls on all 193 member states of the United Nations to respond to the “complex humanitarian emergency” in Syria and to address the urgent needs of the Syrian people “in light of the profound social, economic and humanitarian impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.” .
It urges the intensification of initiatives to expand activities to include the provision of water, sanitation, health, education, electricity, shelter and early recovery projects.