Since 2014, people in need in Syria have received UN humanitarian. But now, support in the middle of the corona pandemic is on the brink – due to the veto of Russia and China.
A blockade in the UN Security Council endangers humanitarian aid for millions of people in need in Syria. Russia and China vetoed on July 7 a German-Belgian resolution to continue humanitarian aid to Syria that the German UN ambassador Christoph Heusgen – Germany is residing the Security Council this month – announced at a meeting of the council. Now, the most powerful body of the United Nations has time until Friday to agree on an extension of the regulation before the deadline. In addition to Russia‘s veto, one of Syria’s main allies and China, all 13 other members of the Council agreed to the draft resolution.
The background to this is a resolution that has been in place since 2014, allowing the UN to bring essential relief supplies to parts of the country via border crossings that are not controlled by Bashar al-Assad. Millions of people are dependent on the goods that pass through these points. After Russian resistance, the once four crossings at the beginning of the year were reduced to two, in Assad’s sphere of influence – since then the supply situation for some regions of Syria has deteriorated significantly.
Russia now only wants to keep one transition, Bab al-Hawa in northwest Syria, open for the delivery of aid. The existing mechanism had to “gradually expire” due to the growing influence of the Syrian government in the country and had to be replaced by a new system of aid deliveries. A corresponding counter-proposal submitted for voting is considered to have no chance. Moscow nevertheless has a significantly stronger negotiating position in the dispute, since it can continue its ambitions in Syria without the cross-border aid, if no compromise is found.
According to Germany and other countries in the 15-member Security Council, both current border crossings, between Turkey to Syria, are still urgently needed if one of them fails due to the fighting. Also, the United Nations once again emphasized on Tuesday that the aid corridors are “vital” for many civilians in Syria.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office in Berlin emphasized that around 2.8 million people depend on food aid from the United Nations. “Cross-border supplies are the only way for them to receive humanitarian aid, since the Syrian regime continues to make aid deliveries from Damascus extremely difficult.” In the run-up to the negotiations, Germany and Belgium had already decided against a further crossing at the border to Iraq due to Russian resistance, which would be particularly important for the supply of medical goods in view of the Corona crisis.