UN council members point fingers over Syria aid crossings - GulfToday

UN council members point fingers over Syria aid crossings


Displaced Syrians sit with belongings in the back of a truck arriving to the city of Idlib. AFP

UN Security Council members clashed on Wednesday over humanitarian needs in war-torn Syria, weeks after the group’s contentious decision to halve the number of border crossing points for aid.

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With UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warning that medical supplies unable to reach the needy and tensions may be mounting because of "the inadequate humanitarian response,” Britain and the United States accused Russia and China of cutting away at a lifeline for millions of Syrians. China, in turn, said its critics were politicizing aid.

Members of the Syrian Civil Defence stand next to vehicles loaded with displaced Syrians in Idlib province. AFP

The jabs came as hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled during a more than month-long Syrian government offensive in the northwestern province of Idlib, where al-Qaida-linked rebels have their last stronghold in the country. Syrian troops this week captured one of the largest and most strategic rebel-held towns in the area.

An estimated 20,000 people in Idlib have been displaced in just the last two days, Lowcock said, calling the violence in Syria’s northwest "deplorable.”

"Under current conditions, humanitarian responders do not have the capacity to meet the level of need we are seeing,” he said.

In 2014, the Security Council began authorizing aid to Syria through four border crossings. The UN has said it supported about 4 million people in northwest and northeast Syria via cross-border aid deliveries.

But council members split late last year over renewing the system.

Germany, Belgium and Kuwait, backed by the U.S., Britain, France and other council nations, initially wanted to add a fifth crossing point.

But key Syrian ally Russia, joined by China, vetoed that plan. They argued the situation in Syria had changed enough to warrant cutting two crossing points, both on the Turkey-Syria border, and working more closely with the Syrian government to handle aid. Their proposal ultimately prevailed in a vote hours before the Jan. 10 renewal deadline.

Now, 400,000 medical items are stuck on trucks in Iraq, where a crossing point closed, Lowcock said.

Associated Press

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