The UN Security Council on Tuesday has voted to adopt a resolution, put forward by Ireland and Norway, to extend life-saving aid deliveries into northwest Syria from Turkey for a further six months.
The resolution renews humanitarian deliveries through the Bab-al Hawa border crossing until January of next year amid calls for an additional six-month extension which will require another separate resolution.
Twelve countries voted in favour of the resolution, while three nations – France, the United Kingdom and the United States – abstained.
Humanitarian needs in Syria are at their highest levels since the start of the conflict more than a decade ago.
The cross-border mechanism has been in place since 2014, and the most recent authorization, from July 2021, expired on Sunday.
Last month, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to the Council to renew operations for 12 months, stressing the “moral imperative” of addressing the suffering of more than four million people in the region.
The extension comes after ambassadors rejected two competing resolutions on Friday.
The first draft, put forward by Ireland and Norway, was vetoed by Russia. The second, presented by Russia, was only supported by the country and China.
“It’s no secret that this has been a difficult negotiation,” said Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, speaking ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
“We recognize that a six-month renewal is shorter than we as penholders aimed for when we started this negotiation. We recognize also that the vast majority of the Council shared that view, and the view of humanitarian actors on the ground, that a 12-month mandate was needed.”
Resolution 2642 keeps the cross-border mechanism open, said Norway’s Ambassador, Mona Juul, speaking after its adoption.
“For those in humanitarian need in northwest Syria who have been in an uncertain situation with the negotiations running into overtime, we can assure them – and that’s what matters. The cross-border operation is their lifeline and today, the cross-border operation remains,” she said.
Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière of France commended the efforts by Ireland and Norway towards reaching a compromise. Yet his country abstained from supporting “this precarious renewal” as the six months will expire during the winter, when aid is most needed, and without firm guarantees of continuation.
“The call by the Secretary-General and the whole of the humanitarian community to renew this mechanism for 12 months was clear, and ignored,” he said.
Barbara Woodward, the United Kingdom’s Ambassador, recalled the immense humanitarian needs in Syria. Of the 4.1 million people in the northwest who require aid, 2.4 million are reliant solely on the cross-border mechanism.
She warned that without the confidence of at least 12 months, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations risk being caught in a perpetual cycle of pre-positioning and contingency planning. (Source: UN News)