Russia’s deputy UN ambassador said he saw no reason to continue humanitarian aid deliveries from Turkey to rebel-held northwest Syria, blaming the West and the United Nations for insufficient efforts to deliver aid from Damascus and for not funding “early recovery projects” to improve life for millions of Syrians.
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Dmitry Polyansky told the UN Security Council on Friday that “we disagree” with preserving the status quo at all costs, and cannot “turn a blind eye to the fact that HTS terrorists” , the most powerful militant group in northwest Idlib, “usurping authority and manipulating humanitarian aid.
He said supporters of cross-border aid deliveries “show no desire” to allow aid deliveries across conflict lines from Damascus, which could be easily arranged, “which leaves us with no reason to preserve the cross-border mechanism”.
Polyansky said fighters from al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, “openly state that they will not pass on humanitarian cargo from Damascus at the expense” of cross-border aid deliveries.
In early July 2020, China and Russia vetoed a UN resolution that would have maintained two border crossing points from Turkey to deliver humanitarian aid to Idlib.
A few days later, the council authorized the delivery of aid through only one of these crossing points, Bab al-Hawa. This one-year term was extended for one year on July 9, 2021 and expires in approximately six weeks.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told the council on Friday that the UN was doing “everything possible” to expand cross-border aid deliveries and was working for a fifth convoy this year. But he stressed that “cross-border operations cannot, under current conditions, replace the size or scope of the massive UN cross-border operation.”
“Failure to renew the permit will disrupt lifesaving support for people living in the North West, including more than a million children,” he said.
Last month, her deputy Joyce Msuya, told the council “a staggering 4.1 million people” in the northwest are in need of humanitarian aid, with nearly a million people, mostly women and children, living in tents, “half of whom have passed their normal lifespan.”
She said that last year the UN sent some 800 cross-border aid trucks to the northwest each month, “systematically reaching 2.4 million people”.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who said she would make a return visit to the Bab al-Hawa crossing in the coming weeks, stressed that it is in everyone’s interest, including Russia and Syria, “to avoid a disastrous humanitarian situation”. in Syria to worsen and become more desperate.
This is why the Security Council voted unanimously last year to expand cross-border deliveries through Bab al-Hawa “and why we must do it again this year for the benefit of all Syrians”, said- she declared.
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