Cross-border Syria aid gets 6-month extension without new UN vote

'The cross-border delivery of aid is essential,' UN spokesman said

Relief organisations distribute humanitarian aid at a camp for displaced people near the town of Al Muhammadiyah, in Afrin's countryside in the northern Aleppo. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Cross-border humanitarian aid to north-west Syria is still "essential" the UN said on Monday as it extended the measure for six more months despite Damascus not approving the move and the Security Council not voting on the matter.

The council had previously renewed the authorisation allowing aid into rebel-held areas in the country's northwest "for a period of six months... until 10 January 2022," through the crossing at Bab Al Hawa on the Syrian border with Turkey.

The text provided for "an extension of an additional six months, that is, until 10 July 2022," subject to a report by the UN Secretary-General.

For the West, the renewal to July had been interpreted as automatic, while Russia had raised the possibility of requesting a new Security Council vote, though it has not taken that step.

In his December report, UN chief Antonio Guterres had stressed the impossibility of replacing at this stage the cross-border mechanism for one that crossed front lines from Damascus.

Moscow favors this method as recognition of the Syrian government's sovereignty over the whole country.

Aid through the Bab Al Hawa crossing primarily serves the roughly three million people living in the Idlib region, which remains outside Damascus' control.

"The cross-border delivery of aid is essential," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said during his daily briefing.

"We need aid to be delivered through cross-border and through cross-line. Those are essential elements for us to meet the humanitarian needs of all Syrians."

Asked about the lack of a new Security Council vote, he said "we would welcome any decision that would allow us to continue with this vital cross-border aid."

Updated: January 11, 2022, 6:52 AM