BEIRUT

Middle East

U.N. authorizes aid access in Syria

A Syrian resident grasps a mattress amid rubble following a reported overnight air strike by government forces on July 14, 2014 in the al-Firdous neighborhood of the northern city of Aleppo. AFP PHOTO / AMC/ BARAA AL-HALABI

UNITED NATIONS: The U.N. Security Council Monday authorized humanitarian access without Syrian government consent into rebel-held areas at four border crossings from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, even though Syria has warned it deems such deliveries incursions into its territory.

“The consent of the Syrian authorities will no longer be necessary,” Luxembourg’s U.N. Ambassador Sylvie Lucas told the 15-member Security Council after the vote on the resolution, which was drafted by Luxembourg, Australia and Jordan.

The unanimously adopted resolution established for 180 days a monitoring mechanism for loading aid convoys in neighboring countries, which will notify Syria of the “humanitarian nature of these relief consignments.” The U.N. says about 10.8 million people need help, of whom 4.7 million are in hard-to-reach areas. At least 150,000 people have died in Syria’s civil war.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power accused Damascus of using denial of aid as “another weapon in its cruel and devastating arsenal against opposition-held areas.” Syria’s government warned the Security Council last month that delivering aid across borders into opposition-held areas without its consent would amount to an incursion.

“The Syrian government counts on a neutral, effective and responsible role of the United Nations in dealing with the humanitarian situation in Syria, especially in terms of respecting the Syrian sovereignty,” Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Jaafari told the council after the vote.

The resolution also authorizes aid deliveries across conflict lines.

The council acted because of the failure of a resolution it adopted in February demanding rapid, safe and unhindered aid access in Syria.

“The humanitarian situation in Syria has actually worsened,” Australian U.N. Ambassador Gary Quinlan told the council. “Damascus has pursued a calculated policy of arbitrary denial of desperately needed humanitarian relief.”

Najib Ghadbian, the opposition-in-exile National Coalition’s special representative to the U.N., said in a statement that his group and “our partner on the ground, the Free Syrian Army, stand ready to facilitate safe, direct access in the liberated areas under our control.”

The U.N. said in April that to deliver aid across borders without government consent it would need a Chapter 7 resolution, giving the council authority to enforce decisions with economic sanctions or military force.

Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.N. Office of Legal Affairs believes Monday’s resolution is strong enough to allow the U.N. cross-border aid access without approval from Damascus.

Syria’s ally Russia made clear it would block a Chapter 7 resolution and with China have vetoed four resolutions for action against Damascus.The new resolution allows aid deliveries across Yaaroubieh on the Iraq border, Ramtha from Jordan and Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa from Turkey. The Turkish posts cross into territory held by militants from ISIS.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council aid deliveries could only be made under U.N. guiding principles for humanitarian relief, which “means that the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria would be firmly complied with.”

Russia, backed by China, supported the resolution after more than a month of negotiations. Key to winning their votes was weakening a threat of further measures, such as sanctions, if warring parties did not comply.

The language was watered down to say the council “affirms” rather than “decides” and will “take further measures in the event of non-compliance.” The Security Council must agree a second resolution to impose punishments.

Western diplomats said the resolution was not as ambitious as the initial text, which demanded blanket cross-border access.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 15, 2014, on page 1.

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus

Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here