Security Council Beats Midnight Deadline, Renews Syria Cross-Border Aid
The Security Council on Friday evening renewed a UN operation delivering humanitarian aid across the Syrian border to millions of civilians, but some of the body’s members expressed disappointment that the “watered down” measure cut in half the number of crossing points and duration of the authorization.
Failing last month to extend the cross-border authorization after permanent members China and Russia vetoed one draft resolution and failed to gain enough support for its own rival measure, the Council faced a midnight deadline Friday for the expiration of its six-year-long mandate along with the possibility of yet another “no” vote from Russia.
With 11 votes in favor, 0 against, and with four of its permanent members abstaining – China, Russia, United States, and United Kingdom – the Council re-authorized only two of the four existing border crossings (Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa in Turkey) for a period of six months (instead of 12), while dropping re-authorization for use of crossings in al-Ramtha (Jordan) and Al Yarubiyah (Iraq).
Negotiating cross-border humanitarian aid
An upsurge in hostilities in north-west Syria, has displaced some 300,000 people since 12 December.
Meanwhile, against the backdrop of new Council members joining the peace and security body in the New Year, negotiations had been ongoing with permament members the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France meeting four times since last week, without reaching a compromise.
The main point of contention, according to news reports, revolved around the Al Yarubiyah crossing.
Resolution sponsors Germany, Belgium and Kuwait pushed for the continued delivery of aid through two crossing points in Turkey and one in Iraq.
But the competing resolution from Russia, Syria’s closest ally on the Council, advocated the closure of the Al Yarubiyah crossing in Iraq.
The UN cross-border aid delivery mechanism was first established in 2014 through resolution 2165. Its mandate was most recently renewed in resolution 2449 of 2018.
During the heated exchanges this evening, several Council members said they were disappointed that a scaled-down text had been adopted and that a better compromise was not reached.