After much discussions and deliberations, a draft UN resolution has stated that it would maintain two border crossing points from Turkey to deliver humanitarian aid to Syria. Previously, in January, the UN council meeting was forced to close down its points of access for humanitarian aid due to pressure from Russia and China that vetoed the decision then.
But consistent pressure and talks have now led to two routes being opened up, mainly in rebel-held northwest and has also lead to the reopening of an Iraqi crossing to the northeast. This will help in delivering aid and medical supplies for the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new proposed UN Security Council resolution that has been drafted by Belgium and Germany said that there are more than 11 million Syrians that are in need of aid and that cross-border deliveries remain “an urgent and temporary solution” to help them. Earlier Russia had pointed out that the cross border deliveries should have been only a temporary arrangement and not become a permanent method of providing aid to the Syrians.
There is more urgency in doing so because of the failing medical facilities in Syria due to a decade of war that has crippled the country and would need all the help it can get to become strong enough to manage the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
The UN Humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock has rightly called the northwest border operation ‘a lifeline for millions of civilians whom the U.N. cannot reach by other means,’ saying deliveries are at record levels with 1,365 trucks crossing from Turkey in April is life savers.
According to the mandate, a year-long access has been guaranteed through the two border crossing points- Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa. Access through the Al Yarubiyah crossing from Iraq would also be reinstated for an initial period of six months until January 10, 2021. It might be extended by another six months after considerations of the council to decide the impact of the pandemic warrants it after evaluating a report to be done by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
According to Human Rights Watch’s UN Director Louis Charbonneau, restrictions on aid from Damasus and Iraq shows that this had prevented medical supplies and personnel from reaching almost two million needing people in the northeast, where there were dozens of confirmed COVID-19 cases in May and at least three deaths.
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