UN Expresses Concern over Unacceptable Conditions on Aid Delivery in Northwest Syria
The delivery of humanitarian aid through the Bab Al-Hawa border to rebel-held territories in northwest Syria is subject to “unacceptable conditions” imposed by Damascus, according to the United Nations (UN), which has expressed alarm. Since a 2014 UN agreement expired on Monday, the distribution of relief has been halted. The UN has found two conditions in the letter from the Syrian authorities allowing the use of the border crossing unacceptable. This article examines the issue, emphasising the effects on the distribution of aid and the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in northwest Syria.
In a letter to the UN Security Council, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) voiced its worries. The Syrian government’s request that the UN refrain from cooperating with groups labelled as “terrorists” was the first condition to which the UN protested. The second requirement required that the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) oversee and facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid in northwest Syria.
More than four million people in northwest Syria, according to the UN, are in desperate need of resources, including food, water, medicine, and other needs. Since 2014, the UN has relied on the Bab Al-Hawa passage, which is made possible by the neighbouring Turkish nation. However, humanitarian delivery ended once the UN agreement expired on Monday.
Syria’s Announcement and UN Response
Syria stated on Thursday that it would give the UN permission to use the Bab Al-Hawa gate for another six months to transport essential humanitarian aid to rebel-held territories. The decision was referred to as “sovereign” by Bassam Sabbagh, the ambassador of Syria to the UN. But on Friday, Stephane Dujarric, a UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spokesman, said there had been no crossings at Bab Al-Hawa with UN assistance, suggesting that the Syrian government’s approval was still being considered.
Syria has regularly decried UN assistance deliveries as a breach of its sovereignty, and for years, its partner Russia has been slowly weakening the cross-border aid agreement. Russia objected to a nine-month extension of the accord before the UN Security Council, and a six-month extension was ultimately rejected for lack of support. The Security Council members have been trying to come to an agreement to extend the cross-border aid pact, but nothing has materialized yet.
The UN’s worries over the “unacceptable conditions” set by Damascus regarding assistance distribution in northwest Syria highlight the difficulties encountered in resolving the humanitarian situation in the area. As the supply of essential humanitarian aid remains blocked, millions of people living in rebel-held areas are in jeopardy. A comprehensive and unconstrained strategy for relief delivery is required in this situation, guaranteeing respect for humanitarian principles while considering the intricate political forces at play. The ICRC has stated that it is willing to assist activities within its purview, provided everyone has permission. These issues must be resolved to reduce the suffering of individuals impacted by the protracted conflict in Syria.