EU official urges Syria Bab Al-Hawa crossing remain open
An EU official called for humanitarian aid to continue into Syria through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, as millions of refugees fear its possible closure by Russia potentially using its veto power in an upcoming vote at the UN Security Council.
Janez Lenarcic, European Commissioner for Crisis Management, said Bab al-Hawa is the region's only border crossing and is vital for vulnerable Syrian people during a visit to Turkey's southern province of Hatay.
He urged that the vote is "a critical time for what is one of the largest humanitarian operations out there".
"This operation means life for millions of people on the other side of the border -- where 3.5 million people depend on humanitarian assistance provided through this border crossing," Lenarcic said.
The commissioner urged members of the council to agree to renew the authorisation for the humanitarian operation.
"I trust that the members of the UN Security Council will appreciate the importance of preserving this operation and this lifeline," Lenarcic said ahead of the critical vote.
The UN Security Council is set to vote on whether to renew the cross-border mechanism, which has allowed the Bab al-Hawa passage to operate since 2014, before it expires on Saturday, with Russia and China, two permanent members, intending to veto it.
The Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey into Syria will close on July 10 unless it receives authorisation from the UN body to stay open for another year.
Russia, a major ally of President Bashar al-Assad, prefers to see the aid delivered from Damascus, arguing that the crossing is used to supply rebel fighters with arms.
A Security Council vote scheduled for Thursday has been postponed possibly to Friday in order to soften Moscow's stance.