‘Time running out’: UN urges for renewal of last Syria border gate

The UN Syria Commission of Inquiry warned on Thursday of serious consequences if the mandate for the last border crossing into Syria, a lifeline for millions of people, is not extended as “time is running out” and the mandate expires on July 10.

“As the country faces its worst economic and humanitarian crisis since the start of the conflict, the international community must safeguard existing, life-saving cross-border assistance and increase their funding pledges to support this aid,” the UN said.

Reiterating that last week Security Council members voiced opposing views on the border crossing, the UN said “It is a moral abomination that a Security Council resolution was in itself deemed necessary to facilitate cross-border aid” in the face of the violations of the Bashar Assad regime and other parties.

According to UN figures, 14.6 million Syrians are dependent on humanitarian aid amid the ongoing war and economic meltdown.

“Across Syria, 12 million people face acute food insecurity – a staggering 51% increase since 2019.”

Especially in the opposition-controlled northwest, which saw most of its infrastructure destroyed by the regime and its backer Russia, 4.1 million people rely on aid – 80% of which are women and children.

“Through the cross-border operations authorized by the Security Council, aid reaches around 2.4 million of them every month. This lifeline is vital to the population in northwest Syria,” the UN underlined, saying that aid from within Syria accounts for only a small amount while they are “exposed to attacks along a dangerous delivery route that crosses active front lines.”

“Parties to the conflict have consistently failed in their obligation to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need across Syria,” Commissioner Hanny Megally added.

In early July 2020, China and Russia vetoed a UN resolution that would have maintained two border crossing points from Turkey to deliver humanitarian aid to Idlib. Days later, the council authorized the delivery of aid through just one of those crossings, Bab al-Hawa.

Damascus ally Moscow says the UN mandate on the border violates Syria’s sovereignty and wants to close Bab al-Hawa when the current provision expires, rerouting aid through the regime-controlled territory.

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