Cross-border Syria aid gets 6-month extension without new UN vote
Cross-border humanitarian aid to northwest Syria - not green-lit by Damascus - remains "essential," the UN said Monday, as the measure was de facto extended for six months without a new Security Council vote.
The council had previously renewed the authorization allowing aid into rebel-held areas in the country's northwest "for a period of six months... until 10 January 2022," through the crossing at Bab al-Hawa on the Syrian border with Turkey.
The text provided for "an extension of an additional six months, that is, until 10 July 2022," subject to a report by the UN Secretary-General.
For the West, the renewal to July had been interpreted as automatic, while Russia had raised the possibility of requesting a new Security Council vote, though it has not taken that step.
In his December report, UN chief Antonio Guterres had stressed the impossibility of replacing at this stage the cross-border mechanism for one that crossed front lines from Damascus.
Moscow favours this method as recognition of the Syrian government's sovereignty over the whole country.
Aid through the Bab al-Hawa crossing primarily serves the roughly three million people living in the Idlib region, which remains outside Damascus' control.
"The cross-border delivery of aid is essential," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said during his daily briefing.
"We need aid to be delivered through cross-border and through cross-line. Those are essential elements for us to meet the humanitarian needs of all Syrians."
Asked about the lack of a new Security Council vote, he said "we would welcome any decision that would allow us to continue with this vital cross-border aid."