Wednesday, January 26

An agreement between the US and Russia allows the UN to extend the humanitarian aid mission in Syria | International

Transport of boxes with humanitarian aid at the Bab el Hawa border crossing on June 30, 2021.
Transport of boxes with humanitarian aid at the Bab el Hawa border crossing on June 30, 2021.MAHMOUD HASSANO / Reuters

The international community has reacted with relief to the UN agreement to extend the humanitarian aid mission for Syrian civilians for six months. Thanks to the consensus reached in this regard by the presidents of the United States, Joe Biden; and Russia, Vladimir Putin, the 15 members of the Security Council of the international organization gave free rein on Friday to the extension of the mandate of a vital operation, without which there would be no adequate alternative to meet the growing needs of part of the population, after more than ten years of war. The survival of millions of Syrians living in the last bastion of the opposition to Bashar al-Assad’s regime depends on the humanitarian corridor that supplies food and medicine to the north of the country from Turkey.

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The Security Council resolution was adopted unanimously in extremis, just hours before this Saturday the current mandate of the mission expired. If an agreement was not reached, UN operations would have been suspended. Russia, one of the permanent members of the Security Council – the competent body for peacekeeping and humanitarian missions – had advocated for months to close this cross-border corridor and channel humanitarian aid through Damascus, but after the contacts between Biden and Putin, formalized In the telephone conversation they had this Friday, the Russian delegation to the UN accepted the commitment. Biden’s office attributed the achievement to the renewed “joint work” of the teams of both presidents, which began with the summit in Geneva (Switzerland) on June 16.

As the Damascus regime regained territorial control of the country, Moscow, its great ally, had forced the closure of all border crossings through which foreign aid for the population had arrived since 2014. All but one, that of Bab el Hawa, which connects Turkey with the province of Idlib, in northwestern Syria.

The text approved this Friday by the Security Council extends the validity of the Bab el Hawa corridor for a year, but with the last semester subject to a report to be prepared by the UN General Secretariat on the transparency of the operation and progress in humanitarian access across the front lines, that is, from inside Syria.

The extension has not been well received in the Kurdish autonomous enclave of northeastern Syria, as it is considered a sample of the “double standards” of the international organization that “punishes five million Syrians in the north and northeast” of the territory, reports the Efe agency. Kurdish Syrians, who rule de facto Wide areas of the northeast also outside the control of Damascus, demand the reopening of the Al Yarubiyah border crossing, which was closed by the Security Council in January 2020.

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