Ireland, Norway call for extension of Syria cross-border aid

Ireland, Norway press for extension of cross-border aid into NW Syria
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The Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey into Syria will close on July 10 unless it receives authorisation to stay open for another year in a UN Security Council vote on Thursday.
For the past year, international organisations have been able to bring in medicine, food, blankets and Covid-19 vaccines through the Bab al-Hawa crossing [Getty]

Ireland and Norway, non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, reaffirmed support on Tuesday for the renewal of an agreement to keep open a border crossing through which humanitarian aid reaches war-torn Syria's rebel-held Idlib region.

The Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey into Syria will close on July 10 unless it receives authorisation to stay open for another year in a Security Council vote on Thursday.

Russia, which wields veto power at the council and is a staunch ally of the Damascus regime, may block the renewal, preferring to see the aid delivered from Damascus and arguing the existing crossing is used to supply arms to rebel fighters.

"We're hoping to see a successful renewal later this week," said Irish ambassador to the UN Geraldine Byrne Nason ahead of a closed-door meeting on humanitarian assistance to Syria.

"We understand its politically sensitive, we're making a purely humanitarian case," she told reporters.

Analysis
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Some three million people live in rebel-dominated northwest Syria, more than half displaced by the country's decade-long conflict.

For the past year, international organisations have been able to bring in medicine, food, blankets and Covid-19 vaccines through the Bab al-Hawa crossing - the only crossing for aid into the region that bypasses Damascus.

Norway's UN envoy Mona Juul said it was "incredibly important" to get the "maximum" assistance into Syria.

"It's a lot at stake, it's really a life and death issue for so many," she added.

Ireland and Norway presented a draft resolution in late June that seeks to keep the crossing open for one year and to reopen a second crossing point, Al-Yarubiyah, which allows supplies to reach Syria's northeast from Iraq.

Humanitarian organisations have been pleading for months for an extension of the UN authorisation.