UN Syria aid resumes through Bab al-Hawa border crossing

UN Syria aid resumes through Bab al-Hawa border crossing
Eighty-five per cent of all UN aid to northwest Syria flows through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing.
2 min read
19 September, 2023
Entry of UN aid through Bab al-Hawa had been suspended since July. [Getty]

UN aid resumed through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing into northwest Syria on Tuesday after months of political wrangling between the UN, the Syrian regime and local opposition authorities.

Some 85 per cent of UN aid enters the northwest through Bab al-Hawa, a vital lifeline for the 4.5 million people there.

More than 7 out of 10 people in northwest Syria are food insecure, and rates of infant malnourishment, in particular, are high.

Entry of UN aid through Bab al-Hawa was suspended in July after the UN Security Council resolution, which authorised the UN to use the crossing without the Syrian regime's consent, was vetoed by Russia.

The Syrian regime then offered the UN to use the border crossing if it "coordinated" with it on aid delivery.

The offer was rejected due to concerns that accepting the offer would run contrary to humanitarian principles of neutrality.

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Humanitarian organisations have widely documented the Syrian regime withholding and weaponising humanitarian aid, particularly in areas formerly held by the Syrian opposition.

On 6 August, the UN and the Syrian regime agreed to allow the use of Bab al-Hawa for the next six months.

UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq said the agreement would allow the UN to continue providing cross-border aid "in a principled manner that allows engagement with all parties for the purposes of seeking humanitarian access and that safeguards the UN's operational independence."

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However, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former al-Qaeda affiliate that controls northwest Syria, refused to allow UN aid to enter through Bab al-Hawa due to the involvement of the Syrian regime.

On 12 September, HTS agreed to allow the UN to use the crossing under the condition that the latter coordinate with it for aid deliveries in the area.

While the resumption of aid in northwest Syria relieves the impoverished population there, humanitarian groups have raised concerns over the short timeline of its authorisation for UN use.

The authorisation expires in February when the need for aid is most significant due to harsh winter conditions.