United Nations: The U.N. Security Council has scheduled a vote Wednesday on a resolution extending cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrians in rebel-held areas in desperate need of food and medicine, without government approval.
The draft resolution, sponsored by Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg, expresses grave distress at the continued deterioration of “the devastating humanitarian situation,” and the fact that 12.2 million Syrians require urgent assistance including medical aid. This includes 7.6 million people displaced inside Syria, 4.5 million in hard-to-reach areas and 212,000 in besieged areas.
The resolution would extend until Jan. 10, 2016 the authorization for U.N. agencies and aid organizations that assist them to deliver humanitarian assistance without approval from President Bashar Assad's government across conflict lines between government and rebel forces, and through four border crossings—two in Turkey, one in Iraq and one in Jordan. One crossing from Iraq, now controlled by extremists, has never been used.
The draft expresses deep concern at old and new impediments to cross-border delivery of aid and encourages the U.N. and its partners “to take steps to scale up humanitarian deliveries into hard-to-reach and besieged areas.”
The U.N.'s decision in July to authorize the movement of aid into war-torn Syria without Assad's consent was heralded as unprecedented, and marked the first time that humanitarian need trumped a nation's sovereignty. But the results have been disappointing.
The U.N. humanitarian office had said that if security allowed, U.N. aid trucked through the four crossings could reach 2.9 million people, complementing the much higher levels of cross-border aid that non-governmental organizations have been moving into the country for years.
So far, however, the number of people who have benefited from aid delivered under terms of the resolution is in the hundreds of thousands, not millions.
While aid workers are dismayed that more trucks loaded with food and medicine aren't moving into Syria, U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos urged the Security Council to extend the mandate for cross-border deliveries.
She said in late November that since the initial resolution was adopted in July, and primarily through cross-border deliveries, the U.N. has gotten aid to nearly all hard-to-reach locations in four governorates—Aleppo, Idlib, Daraa, and Quneitra—which is why it should be renewed.