UN limits aid to Syrian rebels to 6 months in a Russian win

Jul 11, 2022, 9:00 AM | Updated: Jul 12, 2022, 2:48 pm

FILE - In this photo provided by the US Embassy in Turkey, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador...

FILE - In this photo provided by the US Embassy in Turkey, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, examines aid materials at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Turkey and Syria, June 3, 2021. Supporters of a one-year extension of humanitarian aid deliveries from Turkey to 4.1 million Syrians in the rebel-held northwest, which Russia vetoed, are calling on Monday, July 11, 2022 for a Security Council vote on Moscow’s proposal for a six-month extension. (US Embassy in Turkey via AP, File)

(US Embassy in Turkey via AP, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Tuesday extending humanitarian aid deliveries to 4.1 million people in Syria’s rebel-held northwest for just six months in a victory for Russia.

The vote was 12-0 with the United States, Britain and France abstaining. The three veto-wielding council members had backed a resolution for a year-long extension that was supported by almost the entire 15-member council but vetoed by Russia last Friday.

Ireland and Norway, which sponsored the vetoed resolution, circulated a new draft Monday that provides for a six-month extension of deliveries through Turkey’s Bab al-Hawa crossing until Jan. 10. As Russia demanded, a further six-month extension after that would require a new Security Council resolution.

Ireland’s U.N. ambassador, Geraldine Byrne Nason, said before the vote that after difficult negotiations the two countries redoubled efforts to find a way to allow aid “to continue to reach those in dire need in Syria.”

Kenyan Ambassador Martin Kimani, speaking on behalf of the council’s 10 elected members who serve two-year terms, said they wanted a year-long extension but supported six months “to put foremost the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people.”

The resolution adopted Tuesday is almost identical to the Russian draft for a 6-month resolution that failed to get council support last Friday. Russia only got support from its ally China in the 2-3 vote with 10 abstentions.

Russia, a close ally of Syria’s government, remained adamant that it would only support a six-month extension. It has repeatedly called for stepped up humanitarian aid deliveries to the northwest from within Syria, across conflict lines. This would give Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government more control.

U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Mills lashed out at Russia, saying: “The vote we took this morning is what happens when one council member takes the entire security council hostage, with the lives of Syrian men, women and children hanging in the balance.”

With the humanitarian needs in Syria today “greater than they have ever been,” he said Russia chose to ignore calls by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, U.N. agencies and over 30 non-governmental organizations for a yearlong renewal of cross-border deliveries.

He accused Assad’s regime “of corruption, of stealing aid and denying it to communities in need,” saying this is why the cross-border aid deliveries exist. He said Russia knows that some of the dire needs in Syria are “a direct result” of its invasion of Ukraine and the shocks to food and fertilizer deliveries around the world.

“And the simple truth is, Russia does not care,” Mills said.

Russia’s deputy ambassador Dmitry Polyansky said after the vote that it was time for Washington, London and Paris “to get used to respecting the interests of other states first and foremost … who are impacted directly by the Security Council decisions.”

Guterres called the renewal of cross-border aid “a matter of life and death” for many people in Idlib, adding: “I strongly hope that after six months it will be renewed.”

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said the U.N. cross-border operation is vital for providing assistance to millions of people in Syria’s northwest and continuing it is essential to respond “to the humanitarian crisis in Syria as well as regional stability.”

Humanitarian and human rights organizations said a six-month extension is not enough.

Dr. Houssam al-Nahhas, a researcher with Physicians for Human Rights and a former emergency room doctor in eastern Aleppo, said the compromise leaves humanitarian workers with little time to plan their missions in Syria.

“It’s gravely imprudent to have to revisit this debate again so soon, in January, when humanitarian needs are likely to increase in response to harsh winter conditions in the north, he said, saying “more permanent, long-term solutions are critical.”

The new draft calls for secretary-general Guterres to provide a report on humanitarian needs in Syria by Dec. 10 to assess the impact of a possible border closing in January if the resolution isn’t renewed.

The draft also calls for Guterres to brief the council monthly and issue reports at least every 60 days on the progress of cross-line deliveries, humanitarian assistance delivered from Turkey, and “early recovery projects” in Syria that Russia has pushed for.

Polyansky said Russia will be monitoring progress on implementing the resolution “so as to decide on the ultimate fate of the cross-border mechanism” in six months. He also called for increased aid deliveries across conflict lines.

Northwest Idlib is the last rebel-held bastion in Syria and a region where an al-Qaida-linked militant group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, is the strongest. The U.N. said recently that the first 10 years of the Syrian conflict, which started in 2011, killed more than 300,000 civilians, the highest official estimate of civilian casualties.

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

In a compromise with Russia, that one-year mandate was extended on July 9, 2021, for six months, with an additional six months subject to a “substantive report” from Guterres. This was effectively a year-long mandate because a second resolution wasn’t needed.

Before last week’s votes, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said 800 trucks went through the Bab al-Hawa crossing every month last year, reaching about 2.4 million people, and 4,648 trucks crossed in the first six months of this year.


Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Turkey contributed to this report.


This story has been corrected to show that Dr. Houssam al-Nahhas is with the group Physicians for Human Rights.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI gestures while speaking at Un...

Associated Press

ChatGPT maker downplays fears they could leave Europe over AI rules

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on Friday downplayed worries that the ChatGPT maker could exit the European Union

17 hours ago

File - Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, left, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman arrive to the White House for a ...

Associated Press

Regulators take aim at AI to protect consumers and workers

As concerns grow over increasingly powerful artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT, the nation’s financial watchdog says it’s working to ensure that companies follow the law when they’re using AI.

3 days ago

FILE - A security surveillance camera is seen near the Microsoft office building in Beijing, July 2...

Associated Press

Microsoft: State-sponsored Chinese hackers could be laying groundwork for disruption

State-backed Chinese hackers have been targeting U.S. critical infrastructure and could be laying the technical groundwork for the potential disruption of critical communications between the U.S. and Asia during future crises, Microsoft said Wednesday.

4 days ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, May 17, 2023, in Washington....

Associated Press

White House unveils new efforts to guide federal research of AI

The White House on Tuesday announced new efforts to guide federally backed research on artificial intelligence

5 days ago

FILE - The Capitol stands in Washington D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED...

Associated Press

What it would mean for the economy if the US defaults on its debt

If the debt crisis roiling Washington were eventually to send the United States crashing into recession, America’s economy would hardly sink alone.

6 days ago

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, left, looks toward his attorney, public defender Anne Taylor, right, during...

Associated Press

Judge enters not guilty pleas for suspect in stabbing deaths of 4 University of Idaho students

A judge entered not guilty pleas Monday for a man charged in the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students, setting the stage for a trial in which he could potentially face the death penalty.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

UN limits aid to Syrian rebels to 6 months in a Russian win