1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
PoliticsMiddle East

UN draft seeks more cross-border Syria aid

June 26, 2021

The Security Council is bracing for a showdown over cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria. The UN's mandate over a sole crossing point is due to end in July.

Bab al-Hawa crossing
The Bab al-Hawa border crossing is at the Syrian-Turkish borderImage: Khalil Ashawi/REUTERS

A draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council is seeking to authorize the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria through Turkish and Iraqi borders points, according to media reports early Saturday.

Millions of people rely on the aid funneled from Turkey into Syria through an arrangement authorized by the Security Council.

The council had initially approved four border crossings of humanitarian aid in 2014.

But Russia used its veto power last year for a drastic reduction to only one crossing point, Bab al-Hawa, on the Turkish border, and its mandate ends on July 10.

On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to the Security Council to renew its cross-border aid operation into the war-torn country. 

The World Health Organization, Amnesty International and other key organizations have issued similar calls. 

What we know about the draft resolution

Norway and Ireland — non-permanent members of the Security Council — presented the draft resolution on Friday. 

The proposal, seen by The Associated Press and AFP news agencies, would restore aid deliveries through the Al-Yaroubiya crossing point from Iraq in the mainly Kurdish-controlled northeast. The crossing was closed in January 2020.

It would also keep Bab al-Hawa open for one year, instead of the six-month mandate that Russia had insisted on.

The one-page draft resolution states that "the devastating humanitarian situation in Syria continues to constitute a threat to peace and security in the region."

For a resolution to pass, it needs nine votes in favor and no veto from any of the five permanent members Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain.

Which countries back reopening crossing points?

The United States, France and Britain — all permanent members of the council — had called for the reopening of the Bab al-Salam crossing point on the Turkish border, according to diplomats cited by AFP.

Bab al-Salam border gate
The US is seeking to reopen the Bab al-Salam border gateImage: picture-alliance/AP/IHH

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, recently visited Bab al-Hawa and said the draft resolution "falls short'' of the three crossings Washington was seeking to restore.

Since the closure of Bab al-Salam, not a single cross-line convoy has reached Idlib in the rebel-held northwest, Thomas-Greenfield said. 

"The message we have consistently received from UN front-line workers and NGOs is that, in order to ensure humanitarian aid reaches millions of Syrians in dire need, the UNSC must reauthorize three border crossings," she added.

What about Russia?

Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, is expected to block the draft resolution. 

According to The Associated Press, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the most powerful militant group in the northwest, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, of blocking cross-line humanitarian convoys "with the connivance of Ankara."

Lavrov also accused Western donors, who are the major providers of humanitarian aid to Syria, of "blackmailing" by threatening to cut aid for Syria if the council doesn't extend the mandate for Bab al-Hawa.

"We consider it is important to resist such approaches,'' he said in a recent oral statement cited by AP.

fb/mm (AFP, AP)