UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned Wednesday of "devastating consequences" if the Security Council fails to extend authorization for access of cross‑border delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria.
During his briefing to the Security Council about the humanitarian situation in Syria, Guterres said the situation today in Syria is worse than at any time since the conflict began in 2011.
"I strongly appeal to the members of the Council to reach consensus on allowing cross border operations as a vital channel of support for another year," said Guterres. "A failure to extend the Council’s authorization would have devastating consequences."
He said 13.4 million people need humanitarian assistance and 12.4 million others are food-insecure as well as suffering from high transmission rates of the coronavirus.
On the situation in northwest Syria, which Guterres calls "the worst in the country," he said more than 70% of the region’s population are in need of basic humanitarian assistance to survive.
A total of “2.7 million are displaced and it is absolutely essential to maintain and increase our level of support," said Guterres.
'In dialogue with Turkey'
The UN chief said more humanitarian access is required to reach those most in need, highlighting cross-border and cross-line operations.
"We are in dialogue with Turkey and groups in control of the area, and I have strong hopes that it will be possible to start cross-line operations soon," said Guterres.
"But we must recognize that they will never be able to replace cross-border assistance at the present levels," he added.
A large-scale UN cross-border response for an additional 12 months remains essential to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in northwest Syria, according to UN officials.
Syria has been in a civil war since early 2011 when the regime of Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Around half a million people have been killed and more than 12 million had to flee their homes in the past decade.
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