Russia makes rival push on approval of UN aid to Syria from Turkey
Russia put forward a rival proposal on Friday for a six-month extension of U.N. Security Council approval for aid deliveries to northwestern Syria from Turkey, Millions of people in Syria are internally displaced. They depend on the UN aid deliveries to northwestern Syria from Turkey.
Authorisation by the 15-member council is needed because Syrian regime did not agree to the U.N. operation, which has been delivering aid including food, medicine and shelter to millions of people in opposition-held areas of Syria since 2014.
The current six-month authorisation is due to expire on Monday. Syrian ally Russia has long questioned the need for the operation, saying it is a violation of Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity and arguing that more humanitarian assistance should be delivered to the area from within Syria.
The Security Council was already negotiating a text, drafted by Switzerland and Brazil, that would allow the U.N. operation to continue using the Bab al-Hawa crossing for 12 months. Russia put forward its rival text proposing six months on Friday.
The United States wants the U.N. operation extended for 12 months and approval given to use three crossings.
The council is due to vote on both the Swiss/Brazilian draft and the Russian draft on Monday, diplomats said. To be adopted, a resolution needs at least nine votes in favour and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain.
The Security Council initially authorised aid deliveries in 2014 into opposition-held areas of Syria from Iraq, Jordan and two points in Turkey. But Russia and China have whittled that down to just one Turkish border point.
U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council last week: "A 12-month authorisation enables us and our partners to deliver better humanitarian outcomes in the months ahead. It is as simple as that."
He also said the $5.4 billion U.N. aid appeal for Syria for 2023 is the largest in the world, but less than 12% funded.
A crackdown by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 led to civil war, with Moscow backing Assad and Washington supporting the opposition. Millions of people have fled Syria and millions are internally displaced.