Middle East

UN expected to vote Monday to speed aid to Syria

Girls walk past damaged buildings at a site hit by what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad in Aleppo's Maysar neighborhood July 10, 2014. (REUTERS/Hosam Katan)

UNITED NATIONS: Sponsors of a U.N. resolution that would authorize cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrians in desperate need of food and medicine finalized the text ahead of a Security Council vote expected Monday.

The final draft, obtained Friday by the Associated Press, would authorize U.N. agencies and aid organizations that assist them to use routes across conflict lines and four border crossings - two in Turkey, one in Iraq and one in Jordan - for 180 days in addition to those already in use to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Russia, Syria's closest ally, is not expected to block approval of the resolution, said diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told the council two weeks ago that using the border crossings could reach approximately 1.3 million people who have not received aid.

The draft would also authorize the United Nations to monitor the loading of all humanitarian aid shipments in Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, and it would require Syrian authorities to be notified "to confirm the humanitarian nature of these relief consignments."

The draft also covers the wider Syrian conflict, now in its fourth year, saying members are "appalled at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence and the death of more than 150,000 people, including well over 10,000 children." It would also strongly condemn widespread human rights violations.

The council approved a resolution in February demanding that all sides in the Syrian conflict allow immediate access for aid, immediately lift sieges of populated areas, stop depriving civilians of food and halt attacks against civilians. It threatened no sanctions but expressed the council's intention to take "further steps" if its demands are not fulfilled.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's reports on implementation of the resolution since then have instead described a worsening situation every month. Amos told the council on June 26 that the number of Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance has increased from 1 million in 2011 to 10.8 million, jumping 1.5 million in just the last six months. That includes 4.7 million in hard-to-reach areas.

The draft resolution expresses "grave alarm at the significant and rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria."

Its three sponsors, Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan, put the draft in final form for a vote after ambassadors from the 15 council nations met behind closed doors Friday afternoon to discuss the final sticking points.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters earlier Friday that the sponsors needed to drop "two politicized elements ... which have nothing to do with the humanitarian situation in Syria" and were unacceptable to Russia and China, both veto-wielding permanent members of the council. He refused to identify the issues.

The sponsors initially wanted the resolution to be under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which can be enforced militarily, but early on the Russians and Chinese objected.

The proposed resolution would authorize the delivery and monitoring of aid to Syria through the Turkish border crossings at Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa, the Iraqi crossing at Al-Yarubiyah and the Jordanian crossing at Al-Ramtha for 180 days.

It underscores "the need for the parties to agree on humanitarian pauses, days of tranquility, localized cease-fires and truces to allow humanitarian agencies safe and unhindered access to all affected areas in Syria."





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