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The UN Security Council votes on extending cross-border aid to Syria

#Security #Council #votes #extending #crossborder #aid #Syria

The United Nations Security Council voted on Thursday to extend its authorization to send aid across the Syrian border without approval from Damascus, with Russia seeking a six-month extension while Western nations want a full year.

The UN resolution, which allows aid deliveries across the Syrian-Turkish border at Bab al-Hawa, has been in effect since 2014 but expires on Sunday.

Norway and Ireland, two non-permanent members of the 15-nation Security Council, drafted a resolution that would extend the permit until July 10, 2023.

Nearly 10,000 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid passed through Bab al-Hawa last year bound for the rebel-held region of Idlib in north-west Syria. It is the only crossing through which aid can be brought to Idlib without navigating through areas controlled by Syrian government forces.

The resolution, obtained by AFP, calls on “all parties to ensure full, safe and unhindered access by all modalities, including cross-border connections, for shipments of humanitarian aid to all parts of Syria.”

Russia, a Security Council veto member and Damascus ally, has indicated in recent months that it would oppose an extension, having already forced a reduction in the number of border crossings allowed on the grounds that it violates Syria’s sovereignty.

According to diplomats, Russia finally put its own draft resolution on the table, which provides for an extension of six months.

In an attempt to persuade Moscow, Norway and Ireland tabled several amendments addressing the transparency of humanitarian supplies, potential contributions to Syria’s reconstruction and the need to develop aid supplies across government-controlled territory.

Russia has long urged the West to get involved in Syria’s reconstruction, but some council members, most notably France, have refused until political reforms come into force.

However, during a Security Council meeting in June, a majority of countries – including the United States – offered support for funding so-called “early recovery projects” in Syria.

In this sense, the resolution of Norway and Ireland calls for “further international initiatives to expand humanitarian activities in Syria, including water supply, sanitation, health, education and shelter early recovery projects”.

As of Wednesday night, few diplomats dared to predict whether the additions would be enough to persuade Russia to agree to a full-year extension.

However, some told AFP that a last-minute compromise was possible by effectively extending the six-month extension for an additional six months by default.

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