Russia has vetoed the UN resolution for the extension of aid by one year in northwest Syria by Turkey. The closure of the aid is likely to hit millions of people’s lives at risk. This Sunday signals the end of the current authorization for humanitarian supplies through the Syrian-Turkish border at Bab al-Hawa, which has been in place since 2014. As a permanent member of the security council alongside the UK, the USA, France, and China, Russia can block any mandate it wants. On Sunday, the current U.N. Security Council mandate authorizing Turkey to provide around 4 million people in opposition-controlled northwest Syria with food, medicine, and shelter expires. More than 2.4 million people in Syria’s northwest, in the Jihadist and rebel held Idlib region, depend on help to survive. The current United Nations Security Council resolution authorizes the U.N. to provide humanitarian relief, including provisions for food, medication, and housing.
The security council’s decision stands divided on this major issue. Experts point out that there is still time before Sunday’s deadline for Security Council members to reach an agreement.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, warned the council, “This is a life and death matter and, regrettably, people will die because of this vote and the countries that shamefully wielded the veto.” It is incomprehensible, she continued, that one member of the security council, Russia, would prioritise their own political goals over the needs of the Syrian people.
Thirteen of the security council’s non-permanent members voted in favour of the text. Norway and Ireland’s proposal called for a six-month delay until mid-January 2023, followed by another extension of six months “unless the Council decides otherwise.” The extension would also be subject to a “substantive report” from the secretary-general that would include information on the transparency of the operation, advancements in getting aid to the front lines, and advancements in addressing humanitarian needs. Russia vetoed a proposal for an extension.
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While Russia proposed its own draught for an extension of six months with the option of another six months, it was opposed by other states. China, being an ally of Russia, abstained from voting. The opposing member who refused Russia’s proposal thinks that Russia’s move could pose a significant challenge for the NGOs at the forefront of helping with the aid deliveries. The apparent disagreements between Russia and the West have stalled the voting since Thursday. Over the past years, Russia, an ally of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has blocked various efforts by the west.
Three of the five permanent members voted against Russia’s proposal, while the non-permanent members abstained from voting. At least nine members among the fifteen members of the security council should vote to pass the resolutions.
Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, claimed that Moscow would only support its proposal. He adds that Russia’s deputy ambassador to the organization accused the west of being “stubborn” and claimed that the resolution “ignored the sovereignty of Damascus.”
How important is Aids to the Syrian people?
The people of Syria are mostly dependent on aid for their livelihood since the civil war started back in 2014. The people are displaced, their homes are destroyed, and poverty has hit millions of the population. No means of livelihood exist. Last year, about 10,000 trucks carrying supplies for the Idlib region travelled via Bab al-Hawa. The logistical effort needed to ferry aid from Turkey to northwest Syria is of great importance. It is the sole option available for bringing aid into Idlib without having to walk through areas under the control of Syrian government forces. Bringing aid into Idlib without having to walk through areas under the control of Syrian government forces. A UN mandate allows border cooperation to happen without the permission of the Syrian government. Over the years, due to certain factors like years of conflict and pandemics, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has deteriorated Syria’s economy. Consequently, it has become more dependent on aid.
Since 2014, the UN has been aiding millions of Syrians at several border crossings, but beginning in 2020, the council will only allow access to Bab al-Hawa. In 2014, the Security Council approved shipments of humanitarian aid from Iraq, Jordan, and two locations in Turkey into Syrian opposition-held regions. However, veto-wielding nations like Russia and China have reduced that to a single Turkish border point.
The opposition worries that food aid and other aid may become subject to government control because Russia argues more aid should be given from within the nation. The diplomats speak, and the non-permanent members of the council may suggest a nine-month extension to resolve the standoff.
We cannot give up on the people of Syria, said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a plea to the council last month to renew its authorization of the assistance mission.
Russia and the west standoff in Syria
The international community is divided about how to deal with the Syrian civil war due to Bashar al-cruelty Assad and the unprecedented threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The interests of the West and Russia in Syria are basically at odds. While Western interests have attempted to promote the overthrow of Assad, Russian national interests have led Moscow to maintain its unwavering support for the regime.