World, Middle East

Aid to 4m Syrians threatened by double UN veto

Russia and China stop renewal of cross-border aid deliveries for war-weary Syrians

James Reinl   | 20.12.2019
Aid to 4m Syrians threatened by double UN veto

UNITED NATIONS

Aid deliveries to some four million Syrians are under threat after Russia and China on Friday torpedoed a draft UN Security Council resolution for renewing cross border humanitarian operations.  

The double veto by Moscow and Beijing came after days of tense negotiations over competing texts about whether to renew a mandate for using Syrian border posts to deliver food, medicine, and other life-saving supplies. 

Since 2014, the council has authorized aid convoys through four crossings — Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa in Turkey, Al Yarubiyah in Iraq, and Al-Ramtha in Jordan — but the mandate for these operations expires on January 10. 

A resolution drafted by Kuwait, Germany, and Belgium would have allowed deliveries from two Turkish and one Iraqi crossing for another year. But Russia, Syria’s ally on the council, only wanted to approve two Turkish crossings for six months. 

Russia and China vetoed the draft resolution. This marked the 14th time that Moscow had deployed its veto in support of Syria's Bashar al-Assad since the start of the civil war erupted in 2011. 

The other 13 council members voted in favor of the draft. 

Earlier, Ursula Mueller, the deputy head of UN aid operations, had urged council members to agree on renewing the mandate on cross-border aid operations, saying they had “staved off an even larger humanitarian crisis inside Syria”. 

“Without the cross-border operation, we would see an immediate end of aid supporting millions of civilians,” said Mueller. 

“That would cause a rapid increase in hunger and disease, resulting in death, suffering and further displacement — including across-borders — for a vulnerable population who have already suffered unspeakable tragedy as a result of almost nine years of conflict.”

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