International Rescue Committee warns of threat to Syria cross-border aid amid fears Russia will use UN veto

International Rescue Committee warns of threat to Syria cross-border aid amid fears Russia will use UN veto
The International Rescue Committee says millions of people in Syria will be at risk when a UN mandate to deliver cross-border aid expires next month, amid fears Russia will veto its renewal.
2 min read
10 June, 2022
Millions of people in northwestern Syria are reliant on cross-border aid [Getty]

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has issued a strongly-worded warning about the consequences of a potential end to UN aid delivered to rebel-held areas of Syria via a Turkish border crossing.

A UN Security Council mandate to deliver cross-border aid to the rebel-held areas, without authorisation from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, is set to expire on 10 July.

The cross-border aid delivery mechanism was established by a UN Security Council resolution and has been in place since 2014, but permanent UNSC member Russia regularly threatens to veto it when it comes up for renewal.

Russia has succeeded so far in restricting cross-border aid to one crossing - Bab al-Hawa, between Turkey and Syria’s Idlib province.

An estimated 4.1 million people living in rebel-held northwestern Syria are reliant on aid delivered through the crossing to meet their basic needs, according to the IRC, a global humanitarian relief organisation working in Syria since 2012.

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“Last year, the UN reached over 2.4 million people every month in the northwest through its cross-border response. A failure to renew will put access to food assistance for more than 1 million people at risk, as well as critical medical supplies and humanitarian assistance for many more,” the IRC statement said.

Tanya Evans, the IRC’s Country Director for Syria, said that most people in northwestern Syria already did not have enough food and that the Ukraine conflict, which has driven up the prices of basic commodities everywhere, had exacerbated the situation.

“Across the country, Syrians are facing the looming threat of hunger. In the northwest, the area most reliant on the UN’s cross-border support, already more than 70% of the population do not have access to sufficient food,” she said.

“The conflict in Ukraine has further compounded this desperate situation with supplies into the country heavily reliant on food imports.”

There are fears that Russia may try to use the cross-border aid issue as a bargaining chip in the face of sanctions imposed on it in the wake of its brutal invasion of Ukraine.