Responding to the UN Security Council vote passing a resolution renewing authorization of the Bab al-Hawa crossing point for the delivery of UN cross-border humanitarian aid from Turkey to north-west Syria for a six-month period, with a six-month renewal subject to certain conditions, the Head of Amnesty International’s UN office Sherine Tadros said:
“This compromise resolution is once again an example of Russia ignoring the humanitarian needs of Syrians, and instead playing political games with the lives and welfare of millions of people.
“The cross-border aid mechanism through Bab al-Hawa provides a crucial lifeline for people in north-west Syria, providing food, clean water and medical supplies to more than a million people. The closing of two additional crossings last year has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in both north-west and north-east Syria. Authorizing just the single crossing at Bab al-Hawa once again for one or possibly two six-month periods is essential but minimal and remains woefully insufficient to meet the overwhelming humanitarian needs of the civilian population.
“By blocking a draft resolution authorizing a simple 12-month extension of authorization for Bab al-Hawa, and blocking a previous version which would have reopened the al-Yarubiyah crossing from Iraq urgently needed for north-east Syria, Russia and China have displayed an utterly shameful disregard for the lives of those who are reliant on humanitarian aid to survive.”
Authorization for the last operating cross-border crossing point at Bab al-Hawa had been due to expire on 10 July 2021. Two other crossing points Bab al-Salam and al-Yarubiyah were closed in 2020 after Russia and China vetoed UN Security Councils authorizing them to remain open.
Humanitarian and human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, and states including the US, UK and France had called for the draft resolution to include authorization to re-open two other crossing points at al-Yarubiyah and Bab al-Salam, in addition to renewing authorization for Bab al-Hawa. However, in response to the objections from Russia and China, the draft sponsors, Ireland and Norway, circulated an initial draft calling for re-opening just one other crossing at al-Yarubiyah in addition to the renewal of Bab al-Hawa. Following further objections from China and Russia’s unwillingness to even participate in a negotiating session, Ireland and Norway withdrew that draft and proposed a new further compromised resolution simply renewing the single existing crossing at Bab al-Hawa for one year.
Despite this capitulation, Russia tabled a counter resolution extending the authorization for Bab al-Hawa for just six months. The compromise resolution provides for retaining the single crossing at Bab al-Hawa for six months, with renewal for an additional six-months subject to certain conditions, including reporting by the UN Secretary-General.
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