UN Security Council renews cross-border aid mandate for Syria

The UN Security Council has renewed on Friday a mandate authorising delivery of cross-border humanitarian aid.

The six-year-long mandate was set to expire at midnight on Friday.

The UN will provide humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians through two border crossings in Turkey for six months, instead of through three crossings in Turkey and Iraq for twelve months as proposed in a previous draft resolution which had been vetoed by Russia.  

Border crossings Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa in Turkey will continue to be used, but the mandate doesn’t include Iraq’s Al Yarubiyah crossing.

U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft said the resolution was a watered down version that ignored the needs of millions of Syrians, and Russia was solely responsible for the crisis it would create.

Another resolution proposed by Russia after its veto last month called for the closure of the Al Yarubiyah crossing, as the situation on the ground had changed dramatically and the crossing was not relevant anymore, according to Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.

Negotiations continued throughout last week among the council’s permanent members Russia, China, United States, United Kingdom and France as the deadline neared.

During Friday’s discussions, Germany’s representative said the decision had come at a heavy price for Syrian civilians.

U.K. Ambassador Karen Pierce said the council had been left with no choice but to approve a resolution that did not meet the needs of all Syrian people.

Ambassador Nebenzia maintained that any resolution adopted by the council should specify that humanitarian assistance must be provided with the consent of the recipient and host governments.

“All these cries about the imminent catastrophe, disaster which North-East faces if we close one cross-border point are totally irrelevant,” Ambassador Nebenzia had said before Friday’s meeting, “because humanitarian assistance to that region is coming from within Syria.”

Some 300,000 people have been displaced in northwest Syria since December 12, according to the UN.

Four million people across northern Syria received support from UN cross-border humanitarian assistance, according to a statement in November by UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock.