Syria extends UN's life-saving deliveries for three months

Damascus first agreed to open two border crossings from Turkey until mid-August

A convoy of lorries carrying humanitarian aid near the Syrian Bab Al Hawa border crossing with Turkey. AFP
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Syria has granted the UN an extension to deliver humanitarian aid via two border crossings from Turkey for another three months.

After the deadly February 6 earthquake that struck both Turkey and Syria, Damascus agreed to temporarily open the two border crossings until August 13.

Eri Kaneko, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said on Tuesday that Damascus had agreed to an extension of the arrangement.

“We greatly welcome the extension of permission by the government of Syria to utilise the Bab Al Salam and Al Ra'ee border crossings until November 13,” Ms Kaneko said.

The world body has been using the Bab Al Hawa crossing to channel life-saving aid to more than four million people in north-western Syria.

Through an arrangement that began in 2014, the UN delivered relief directly through the Bab Al Hawa crossing from Turkey.

But last month, the UN Security Council failed to reach consensus on extending the key aid route.

Russia vetoed a nine-month extension then failed to muster enough votes to adopt a six-month extension.

“The resolution expired a month ago and there is no solution currently in sight. This is simply deplorable,” said Sebastien Gay, the Doctors Without Borders head of mission for Syria.

“Humanitarian aid has been used as a tool in a political dispute and struggling people in north-west Syria will pay the price for this failure.

“These people have been suffering for 12 years and live in conditions that no human being should be subjected to. The end of the last remaining impartial cross-border mechanism means things will get even worse for them.”

The Syrian government has said it will allow humanitarian aid to pass through the crossing for another six months under certain conditions.

The UN criticised the “unacceptable conditions” set by Syria and said it was concerned that the Syrian government had “stressed that the UN should not communicate with entities designated as terrorist”.

Several international organisations have expressed concern that allowing Damascus to have control over the flow of aid to rebel-held areas could limit access to those most in need.

Updated: August 08, 2023, 4:20 PM