UN to vote Monday on aid deliveries from Turkey to northwest Syria

AP , Saturday 8 Jul 2023

The U.N. Security Council is to vote Monday on extending aid deliveries from Turkey to Syria’s rebel-held northwest, with a resolution sponsored by Brazil and Switzerland calling for a 12-month extension and a rival Russia resolution limiting a renewal to just six months.

FILE - Trucks loaded with United Nations humanitarian aid for Syria following a devastating earthquake are parked at Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, in Syria s Idlib province, on Feb. 10, 2023. AP


The delivery of aid to the area has increased significantly following the devastation caused by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that ravaged southern Turkey and northwestern Syria on Feb. 8.

Syrian President Bashar Assad opened two additional crossing points from Turkey to increase the flow of assistance to quake victims, and he extended their operation for three months in May until mid-August. But those crossings are not mentioned in either resolution.

The rival resolutions obtained Friday by The Associated Press virtually ensure that aid deliveries will continue through the main Bab al-Hawa crossing for at least six months.

Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib is home to some 4 million people, many of whom have been forced from their homes during the 12-year civil war, which has killed nearly a half million people and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million. Hundreds of thousands of people in Idlib live in tent settlements and rely on aid that comes through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing.

The earthquake caused more than 4,500 deaths in northwest Syria and about 855,000 had their homes damaged or destroyed, according to the U.N.

U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on June 29 that the conflict in Syria has pushed 90% of its people into poverty and that millions face cuts in food aid in July because of a funding shortfall.

He said the $5.4 billion U.N. humanitarian appeal for Syria — the world’s largest — is only 12% funded, meaning that emergency food aid for millions of Syrians could be cut by 40% this month. On Friday, he said the U.N. World Food Program needs $200 million to avoid the food cuts.

The Security Council initially authorized aid deliveries in 2014 from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan through four crossing points into opposition-held areas in Syria. But over the years, Syria’s close ally Russia, backed by China, has reduced the authorized crossings to just Bab al-Hawa from Turkey — and the mandate from a year to six months. The current six-month term expires Monday.

Russia has pushed for more aid to be delivered across front lines within Syria, which would give the Syrian government control over the shipments. It has also pushed for early recovery projects to provide jobs and help the country's economy.

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