The United Nations has appealed for an extension to a resolution allowing the passage of essential goods into Syria, which is set to expire on July 10.
Each month, more than 1,000 trucks have been transporting food, medicine and other items through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, an international border on the Syria-Turkey border.
The UN agreement that allows the corridor to operate, known as the Cross-Border Mechanism (CBM), must be periodically voted at the Security Council and cannot be renewed without positive votes from Russia and China.
“I strongly appeal to the members of the Council to reach consensus on allowing cross border operations as a vital channel of support for another year,” UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said.
“A failure to extend the Council’s authorisation would have devastating consequences,” he warned.
Russia has so far rejected warnings that the closing of the border crossing will leave more than one million people without food and medicine. Claiming it is integral to strengthening Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia insisted that aid can and should be delivered across conflict lines in Syria.
The UN must decide by July 10 whether to renew the Bab al-Hawa crossing point from Turkey, which gives the body and its partners access to about 3.4 million people in northwest Syria, including areas outside government control.
Around 13.4 million people are dependent on aid relief in Syria after over a decade of conflict.
Ramesh Rajasingham, the UN’s Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, pointed out that the failure to extend the authorisation will have stark consequences on the wellbeing of the Syrian population as NGOs would be unable to meet the needs.
“With 90 per cent of people in need requiring assistance for their survival, they would face a truly catastrophic situation. There is simply no substitute for the cross-border operation,” he said.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the United States is willing to work to expand aid to Syrians across borders and conflict lines.
However, “without cross-border access, more Syrians will die”. She estimated thousands of children will be denied food and be permanently stunted in growth and cognitive development.
“There is no Plan B,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
“The Plan B is to continue to push for the extension of the mandate. Plan B means that we have failed, and hopefully we don’t fail.”