The UN Security Council failed to extend humanitarian aid deliveries to 4.1 million Syrians in rebel-held northwest Turkey on Friday after Russia vetoed a resolution for a one-year extension and garnered no support. enough for its resolution of an extension of six months.
The failure of the most powerful UN body to agree to an extension came two days before its one-year mandate for deliveries through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing was set to expire on Sunday.
Norway’s UN ambassador Mona Juul and US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said after the two votes that they will continue to try to reach an agreement among the 15-member council so that aid does not stop. .
The vote on the one-year extension resolution drafted by Norway and Ireland was 13 countries in favour, Russia voting against and China abstaining.
The vote on Russia’s rival resolution for a six-month extension was two countries in favour, three against and 10 abstentions, well short of the minimum nine votes in favor needed for passage. The three countries that voted against the Russian draft were the United States, Britain and France, all members with veto power.
The UN said last week that the first 10 years of the Syrian conflict, which began in 2011, killed more than 300,000 civilians, the highest official estimate of civilian casualties. Northwestern Idlib is the last rebel stronghold in Syria and a region where an al Qaeda-linked militant group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, is strongest.
Russia, a close ally of the Syrian government, has repeatedly called for humanitarian aid deliveries to the northwest from Syria, across conflict lines, to be stepped up. This would give more control to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
In early July 2020, China and Russia vetoed a UN resolution that would have kept two border crossings from Turkey for humanitarian aid to Idlib. Days later, the council authorized the delivery of the aid through only one of those crossings, Bab al-Hawa.
In a compromise with Russia, that one-year term was extended on July 9, 2021, by six months, with an additional six months subject to a “substantive report” by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. This was effectively a one-year term because a second resolution was not needed, and that term expires this Sunday.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric called cross-border aid critical for men, women and children in the northwest and stressed the importance of long-term planning, including costs.
“In 2021, we had 800 cross-border aid trucks every month, consistently reaching some 2.4 million people,” he told reporters on Thursday. “The number of trucks that crossed in the calendar year, from January of this year to June 30 of this year, was 4,648 trucks.”
The UN has also made five deliveries across conflict lines last year and so far this year with around 2,529 metric tons of assistance, including food and health supplies, it said.