UN chief to Security Council: ‘We cannot abandon the Syrian people’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called on the Security Council to extend its approval of aid deliveries from Turkey to millions of people in need in northwestern Syria, telling the organization: “We cannot abandon the Syrian people”.

The UN mandate, which authorized deliveries from Turkey to the Syrian opposition-controlled northwest, expires on July 10.

Russia, an ally of Syria, argues that the long-running operation violates Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It says more aid should be flown in from within the country, raising fears among the opposition that food and other aid could fall under government control.

Guterres said that in the past year the United Nations had made five such deliveries – known as cross lines – in the opposition-controlled northwest, but that it was not “on the scale needed to replace the massive cross-border response”.

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“I urge board members to maintain consensus on allowing cross-border operations,” he said. “It is a moral imperative to address the suffering and vulnerability of the 4.1 million people in the region who are in need of assistance and protection.

Guterres said 80% of those in need in northwestern Syria are women and children. Some 800 trucks bring in aid from Turkey every month as part of the UN operation, which Guterres has called for a one-year extension.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who visited the Turkish border crossing earlier this month, told the council it had to make a “life or death decision” and that more help, not less, was needed.

“Transversal aid alone cannot meet the crying needs on the ground. It can reach thousands, but not millions. Much more help is needed,” she said.

In 2014, the Security Council authorized deliveries of humanitarian aid to opposition-held areas in Syria from Iraq, Jordan and two points in Turkey. But the veto powers of Russia and China have reduced this to a single Turkish border point.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, described as “pitiful” the UN’s efforts to deliver aid to northwest Syria from inside the country.

China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun said the cross-border aid operation was an “extraordinary arrangement” and that a timetable had to be agreed to end it and move to deliveries from inside the country. country.

Turkey’s Ambassador to the UN, Feridun Hadi Sinirlioglu, asked: “Can anyone, who respects human life and abides by the fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations, afford to disturb such a vital system?

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