Syria: Failure to renew UN resolution on cross-border aid spells humanitarian disaster

Russia and China’s callous use of their veto power to stop the renewal of a UN resolution which expires today, will leave millions of civilians in northern Syria cut off from lifesaving aid, said Amnesty International today.

The failure to renew the mechanism established by UN Resolution 2165 in 2014, which had enabled UN humanitarian agencies to deliver aid across the Turkish border to areas of northern Syria controlled by armed opposition groups, will seriously exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation, especially in Idlib and surrounding areas. This comes as Syrian and Russian forces have significantly escalated attacks to regain control of the area displacing hundreds of thousands and causing local and international aid agencies to reduce their aid operations.

“Cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid has offered a lifeline for millions of civilians in northern Syria, who for years have suffered as a result of severely limited access to basic services such as clean water and vital health care,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.

Cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid has offered a lifeline for millions of civilians in northern Syria, who for years have suffered as a result of severely limited access to basic services such as clean water and vital health care
Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International

“By vetoing the renewal of the UN resolution in December - the only humanitarian action taken by the Council on Syria - Russia and China have callously chosen to deny lifesaving humanitarian assistance and essential services to millions of Syrian civilians, and driven a nail in the coffin of the Council’s relevance at an unbearable human cost.

“Security Council members and the UN Secretary General must take a strong stance against the use of veto when a resolution is aimed at protecting civilians. The Council must urgently establish a mechanism to ensure unfettered humanitarian aid can reach those in need in all parts of Syria.”

Background:

On 20 December 2019, Russia and China vetoed a UN resolution proposed to renew the mechanism established in resolution 2165 allowing UN cross-border delivery of humanitarian assistance to Syria from Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Hawa, and Al Yarubiyah.

Without the renewal of the mechanism, the UN will be forced to request approval from the Syrian government to deliver aid to northern Syria (Idlib, northern Aleppo, and north-east) with no guarantees these requests will be approved.

UN resolution 2165 adopted in 2014 has enabled UN agencies and their implementing partners to send more than 30,000 trucks of humanitarian assistance across Jordan, Iraq and Turkey to assist those in need in opposition-controlled areas in Syria.

There are currently an estimated 2.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in northwestern Syria, including internally displaced people who have fled hostilities in other parts of Syria since the crisis began in 2011.