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Cross-border Syria aid gets six-month extension without new UN vote

UNITED NATIONS, UNITED STATES (AFP) – Cross-border humanitarian aid to northwest Syria – not green-lit by Damascus – remains “essential,” the United Nations (UN) said, as the measure was de facto extended for six months without a new Security Council vote.

The council had previously renewed the authorisation allowing aid into rebel-held areas in the country’s northwest “for a period of six months… until 10 January 2022,” through the crossing at Bab al-Hawa on the Syrian border with Turkey.

The text provided for “an extension of an additional six months, that is, until 10 July 2022,” subject to a report by the UN Secretary-General.

For the West, the renewal to July had been interpreted as automatic, while Russia had raised the possibility of requesting a new Security Council vote, though it has not taken that step.

In his December report, UN chief Antonio Guterres had stressed the impossibility of replacing at this stage the cross-border mechanism for one that crossed front lines from Damascus.

Moscow favours this method as recognition of the Syrian government’s sovereignty over the whole country.

Aid through the Bab al-Hawa crossing primarily serves the roughly three million people living in the Idlib region, which remains outside Damascus’ control.

“The cross-border delivery of aid is essential,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said during his daily briefing.

“We need aid to be delivered through cross-border and through cross-line. Those are essential elements for us to meet the humanitarian needs of all Syrians.”

A ground crew member directs the loading of a shipment of items donated to Syria, on the tarmac of an airport. PHOTO: AP


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