The United Nations Security Council Will Decide on Syria Aid Access on Friday

Russia has proposed to the United Nations Security Council that it extend assistance access into Syria from Turkey for six months in response to a rival move by Western council members to extend the long-running U.N. cross-border aid operation for another year. 

After refusing to participate in weeks of negotiations on a resolution proposed by Ireland and Norway, Syria’s ally Russia presented its own version on Thursday. On Friday, the 15-member council will decide on two issues. 

The United Nations’ cross-border relief operation’s council mandate, which began in 2014, is set to expire on Saturday. It requires nine votes in favor and no veto from any of the permanent members: Russia, China, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. 

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has urged the Security Council to extend the cross-border humanitarian operation for another year, saying that failure would be catastrophic for millions of people. 

“Twelve months doesn’t fly,” Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said when asked if Russia would reject the draught resolution to extend the humanitarian operation for another 12 months. 

The aid effort, according to Russia, is outmoded and infringes on Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. In a dig at the US and others, Russia and China have attributed some of Syria’s problems to unilateral sanctions. 

U.N. agencies and assistance organizations have emphasized that a 12-month renewal is “critical to their work to reliably deliver help while managing lengthy procurement processes,” according to a U.S. mission to the UN official. 

At four stages in 2014, the council first authorized a cross-border humanitarian operation into Syria. Due to Russian and Chinese opposition to renewing all four, it was restricted to one point from Turkey into rebel-held territory in Syria last year. 

Last year, when the cross-border aid operation was extended for another year, Russia and China abstained. 

The council has been split over how to approach Syria for the past decade, with Russia and China arrayed against Western members. Russia has vetoed 16 resolutions linked to Syria, and several of those votes were backed by China. 

Photo Credit: https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/07/07/un-security-council-restore-syria-cross-border-aid