UN extends critical aid from Turkey to Syria's rebel north in unanimous Security Council vote

UN extends critical aid from Turkey to Syria's rebel north in unanimous Security Council vote
3 min read
The Assad regime's ally Russia – in a surprise move – supported a UN Security Council resolution to keep a key border crossing from Turkey to Syria's rebel-held northwest open.
The UN Security Council unanimously supported the resolution, after all eyes were on Russia ahead of the vote [Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty-archive]

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Monday to keep a key border crossing from Turkey to Syria's rebel-held northwest open for critical aid deliveries for another six months.

The Syrian regime's ally Russia – in a surprise move – supported the resolution.

All eyes had been on Russia, which in the past has abstained or vetoed resolutions on cross-border aid deliveries.

It has sought to replace humanitarian aid crossing the Turkish border to northwest Idlib province with convoys from regime-held areas across conflict lines.

Since the early years of Syria's war, Turkey has sided with and supported rebels.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres had warned that the already dire humanitarian situation in Syria is worsening and if the aid deliveries from Turkey to northwestern Idlib aren't renewed, millions of Syrians might not survive the winter.

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Guterres said deliveries have increased across conflict lines within the country, but he said they cannot substitute for "the size or scope of the massive cross-border United Nations operation".

On Sunday, a convoy of 18 trucks entered the area of Idlib through frontlines held by Syrian regime forces.

The resolution put the Security Council on record as "determining that the devastating humanitarian situation in Syria continues to constitute a threat to peace and security in the region".

In July, the council approved a resolution extending humanitarian aid deliveries to Idlib, which is home to 4.1 million people.

Many of the people sheltering in the area have been internally displaced by the nearly 12-year conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.

The resolution will allow for aid deliveries through the Bab Al-Hawa crossing from Turkey to northwest Syria to continue for the next six months, until 10 July.

In addition to pushing for more cross-frontline aid deliveries, Russia has also pushed for early recovery projects in Syria.

Guterres said in a December report that at least 374 early recovery projects have taken place throughout the country since January 2021, directly benefiting over 665,000 people, but he said "further expansion" is needed.

The resolution encourages efforts to improve cross-frontline aid deliveries and calls on all 193 UN member states to respond to Syria's "complex humanitarian emergency" and meet the urgent needs of the Syrian people "in light of the profound socioeconomics and humanitarian impact of the COVID-19 pandemic".

It urges stepped-up initiatives to broaden activities to include providing water, sanitation, health, education, electricity, shelter and early recovery projects.

David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee, expressed at the result of Monday's UN vote, highlighting that more than two million Syrians in the country's northwest rely on the mechanism for basic supplies. 

However, Miliband expressed concern for the near future.

"While we are pleased assistance is guaranteed over winter, the continued reduction of the resolution's mandate to only six months will mean that the certainty provided today will once again be short-lived," Miliband said in a statement.

'The passing of Resolution 2672 demonstrates that in the eyes of the Council cross-border assistance is still absolutely essential and key to saving lives. Come July this will inevitably still be the case."