8700th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Middle East, Syria

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10-Jan-2020 01:13:03
Avoiding midnight deadline, Security Council extends authorization of cross-border aid delivery to Syria, adopting Resolution 2504 (2020) by recorded vote at 8700th meeting.

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Several Speakers Upset about Reduced Access from Four to Two Crossing Points

After protracted negotiations, the Security Council adopted a resolution today extending until 10 July authorization for the United Nations and its partners to deliver humanitarian aid across borders into Syria — avoiding a midnight expiration of its mandate and a scenario in which millions of Syrians would be left with no alternative.

Adopting resolution 2504 (2020) by a vote of 11 in favour, to none against, with 4 abstentions (China, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), the Council decided that aid will continue to be delivered through Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa crossings in Turkey only — excluding Al Yarubiyah and Al-Ramtha on Syria’s borders with Iraq and Jordan, through which deliveries have moved since 2014. Its passage comes after two failed attempts in December 2019 to reauthorize the mechanism. (For more information, please see Press Release SC/14066).

Before its adoption, the Council rejected an oral amendment proposed by the Russian Federation’s delegate to include a reference to General Assembly resolution 46/182 — with 7 voting against that measure (Belgium, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States), 3 in favour (China, Russian Federation, Viet Nam) and 5 abstaining (Indonesia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Tunisia).

Belgium’s delegate, who negotiated the resolution together with Germany, said that the fate of 4 million Syrians who receive the aid were the exclusive motivation. Three crossings were at the heart of the mandate — “the bottom line” in terms of a humanitarian perspective — and he deeply deplored that the Council could not agree to keep the Al Yarubiyah checkpoint open, as it allows for medical aid to reach 1.4 million people.

France’s delegate expressed regret that the resolution reduced the mechanism’s scope from four to two crossing points, and duration from 12 to 6 months. Syria is sparingly granting authorizations and diverting aid for political ends, while the World Health Organization finds it impossible to deliver 8 to 10 lorries projected for the coming weeks. The Russian Federation has given into the demands of a criminal regime, she said, calling its intransigence morally and humanly incomprehensible.

The United Kingdom’s delegate said she abstained from the vote as the resolution reduces the provision of aid to populations at risk. She accused the Russian Federation of “playing dice” with the people in north-east Syria, emphasizing that four border crossings were requested.

Highlighting the heated divisions within the Council, the speaker for the Russian Federation said that it is unclear why some members had refused to negotiate on the alternative draft submitted earlier by his delegation. He abstained in today’s vote in order to not block aid deliveries, stressing that border crossings in Jordan and Iraq have not been used often over the past year and that Syria must approve all aid deliveries.

On that point, the United States delegate disputed that Syria’s consent is required for aid to be delivered through the crossings. The United States abstained from voting on a “watered‑down” resolution, as it is inadequate to meet people’s needs, having sought to renew all four crossings authorized by resolution 2449 (2018), she explained.

Offering the national perspective, Syria’s delegate expressed regret that the commitment to Assembly resolution 46/182 has fallen victim to a political agenda since the adoption of resolution 2165 (2014). The Government has been unrelenting in ensuring that aid is delivered to all its citizens, without discrimination.

On 19 and 20 December 2019, Syria clearly expressed its legal and ethical motivations for rejecting the renewal of the cross-border mechanism, he said, as the contrived circumstances in which it was established no longer exist. Further, the mechanism has failed to ensure that aid does not fall into the hands of terrorist groups, which have been stealing it to fund their activities — a scenario playing out in Idlib, which is controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra, supported by Turkey’s rogue regime.

Also speaking today were representatives of Tunisia, Dominican Republic, Estonia, China, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Indonesia, Germany and Viet Nam.

The meeting began at 6:05 p.m. and ended at 7:16 p.m.

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