UN Security Council to Vote on 6-Month Extension of Cross-Border Humanitarian Aid to Syria’s Idlib

© AP Photo / Ghaith AlsayedThis April 19, 2020 file photo shows a large refugee camp on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey, near the town of Atma, in Idlib province, Syria
This April 19, 2020 file photo shows a large refugee camp on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey, near the town of Atma, in Idlib province, Syria - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.07.2022
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is due to vote on Thursday on extending humanitarian aid deliveries for six months instead of a year, as per a request by permanent council member Russia.
The original proposal, drafted by Ireland and Norway, called for a 12-month extension to the program, which will expire on Sunday without action by the council. Russia’s alternate proposal calls for a six-month extension, as well as “a special working group'' of council members, major donors, regional parties, and representatives of international humanitarian agencies “in order to regularly review and follow up on the implementation of this resolution,” according to the Associated Press, which obtained a draft of the resolution.
According to reports, the vote was delayed until late on Thursday, making it likely the issue might not be decided until Friday.

Last year, the humanitarian aid delivered to Syria’s Idlib Governorate was cut from two border crossings to one, at Bab al-Hawa in the far north, just west of Aleppo. According to Medecins du Monde, more than 2.4 million Syrians benefit from the aid, with more than 9,500 trucks of food, medicine and other goods crossing in 2021. MDM is among those groups demanding a 12-month extension.

The territory is controlled primarily by Hay’at Tahrir ash-Sham*, the latest iteration of Al-Qaeda in Syria, which was previously known as Jabhat Al-Nusra, as well as allied Turkish troops, present without the permission of the Syrian government in Damascus.
In the past, Russia has opposed expanding aid through Turkey, arguing it violates Syrian sovereignty to circumvent its territory and supply a rebel group. Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, accused the West last week of “flirting with terrorist elements and trying to use them for their own geopolitical purposes.”
“The main threats to the security of Syria and for the entire region are associated with the continued large-scale presence of terrorists who have taken refuge in the territories not controlled by Damascus in Idlib, Zaevfratya and At-Tanf,” Polyansky said at a UN meeting on June 28.
“In this context, we are convinced that the path to resolving the Syrian crisis lies through the end of the illegal foreign military presence in violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as the unconditional cessation of regular Israeli air strikes, the last of which hit Damascus International Airport on July 10,” Polyansky added.
Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands, told the UNSC ambassadors that any kind of cross-border aid meant council members “could find themselves materially supporting a UN-designated terrorist organization,” according to the AP, which obtained a copy of the letter.

To avoid a “flagrant violation” of its own resolutions, the UNSC should closely monitor the deliveries to ensure terrorist groups “are not involved in implementing humanitarian aid.” The other option, he said, is to remove Hay’at Tahrir ash-Sham from the terrorist list.

*Jabhat al-Nusra (also known as Al-Nusra Front, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, or al-Qaeda in Syria) is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other states.
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