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UN Security Council adopted a resolution on the extension of cross-border assistance to Syria

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The UN Security Council on Friday adopted a resolution on the extension of cross-border operations to deliver humanitarian aid to Syria. 11 countries voted for the document, while Russia, China, Britain and the United States abstained.

After more than three hours of closed consultations, the parties managed to agree on the parameters for extending the mechanism, which expired on January 10.  According to the document, aid will be delivered through two points on the border with Turkey.  Points on the border with Jordan and Iraq are excluded.  The scheme has been extended for six months, after this period an assessment of the situation on the ground will be carried out.

The parties nevertheless remained in serious disagreement, which was expressed in the fact that four out of five permanent members of the Security Council abstained from voting for various reasons.  However, none of them began to vote against, so as not to veto, which would stop the delivery of humanitarian aid to the UN.

“The Russian Federation abstained with one single goal – not to block cross-border assistance to Syrian Idlib, the only province that still really needs such a format for the delivery of goods,” said Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya at a meeting.  “It’s still not clear to us why several delegations refused to participate in negotiations on our alternative draft resolution. In fact, we have now come to the same pattern,” the senior diplomat said.

He called this behavior of delegations “a dangerous and cynical political game in which the inhabitants of Idlib become figures of exchange.”  “In the pursuit of political goals, our colleagues risked their interests,” Nebenzya emphasized.

Representatives of the United States and Britain after the vote expressed sharp disagreement with the reduction in the number of border points allowed for use by the UN.  “The United States abstained for only one reason. After months of negotiations, this text was the only way to continue to deliver at least some help,” said U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Kelly Kraft.  “But we are left with a resolution that does not meet the needs of the Syrians,” she added. “We are disappointed with the inability of the UN Security Council to give the Syrians what they need so much.”

The decision to start cross-border humanitarian operations in Syria was adopted by UN Security Council resolution 2165 in July 2014 in response to a sharp decrease in access to the population due to intensified hostilities.  Since then, the aid delivery mechanism has not been reviewed; the Security Council renewed it annually without changes.  However, in 2019, Moscow began to insist on its revision due to the fundamentally changed situation on the earth.

In late December, Moscow and Beijing vetoed the western version of the resolution to extend the mechanism, while the Russian did not get the required number of votes.  As a result, the operation of the entire mechanism was in jeopardy.

Until the last moment, diplomats conducted intense consultations.  The main differences were the number of checkpoints outside Damascus through which the UN could continue to deliver assistance.

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