Russia quits UN arrangement for protecting Syria hospitals, aid

Russia exits UN arrangement aimed at protecting hospitals, aid in Syria
2 min read
26 June, 2020
Russia has quit a UN arrangement that aims to protect hospitals and humanitarian aid from being hit in war-torn Syria.
Russia's move follows a UN inquiry into Syria and its allies targeting civilian infrastructure [Getty]
Russia has withdrawn from a United Nations arrangement aimed at protecting hospitals and deliveries of humanitarian aid in Syria from being caught in wartime crossfire, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Under the UN deconfliction arrangement, the locations of UN-supported facilities and humanitarian sites (such as hospitals) were shared with Syria's warring parties in an effort to protect them amid the conflict. The UN has wondered whether the arrangement has actually put a target on them, according to the report.

According to a note from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to aid groups viewed by Reuters, Russia on Tuesday informed the UN that it would "no longer participate in the humanitarian notification system".

“The United Nations is concerned about the withdrawal of the Russian Federation from the notification mechanism and is examining the implications of this decision for humanitarian personnel and operations in Syria,” the note said.

The note specified that all parties to the conflict remained bound by international humanitarian law.

The UN said it would further discuss the matter with Russia.

Russia's decision follows an internal UN inquiry in April, which found it was "highly probable" the Syrian government or its allies - which include Russia - attacked three healthcare facilities, a school and a refuge for children in northwest Syria last year, according to Reuters.

Russia and Syria have denied targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure. 

In January, the UN Security Council vote to renew cross-border aid to Syria but, under pressure from Russia, ended up scaling back the program, reducing authorized border crossing points to two from four and decreasing the re-authorisation period to six months from a year.

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