Amnesty slams Russia after 'limited' Syria aid resolution
Amnesty International has criticised the United Nations Security Council’s decision to extend the provision of humanitarian aid to Syria via a crossing point on the Turkish border for six months, describing it as a “compromise” which “falls short of humanitarian needs”.
The Head of Amnesty International’s UN office, Sherine Tadros, took aim at UN Security Council member Russia in particular.
“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,” she said on Friday.
The UN Security Council voted on Friday to continue providing humanitarian aid through one crossing on the Turkish border to rebel-held northwestern Syria for a six month period subject to a six month renewal if certain conditions are met.
In the run-up to the vote Russia, which is a key ally of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, indicated that it would veto a renewal of the UN’s mandate to provide cross-border aid, which was due to expire on Friday before the Security Council vote to renew it.
Humanitarian groups repeatedly warned that if the UN was prevented from providing aid to rebel-held areas of Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the Turkish border over a million people would be at risk of starvation.
Last year, two other crossing points into Syria, Bab al-Salam and al-Yarubia, were closed to humanitarian aid after Russia and China vetoed Security Council resolutions allowing them to remain open.
“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,” Tadros said.
“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,” she added.
Tadros accused Russia and China of showing “an utterly shameful disregard for the lives of those who are reliant on humanitarian aid to survive,” by blocking a resolution which would have authorized a full 12-month, rather than a six-month extension of the opening of the Bab al-Hawa crossing and blocking another version which would have also reopened the Yarubiya border crossing, which is in northeastern Syria on the border with Iraq.
Approximately four million people live in rebel-held northwestern Syria, more than half of them displaced from other areas of the war-torn country. An estimated 1.4 million are dependent on cross-border humanitarian aid.