Press release on the Cross-Border Mechanism for Humanitarian Aid Delivery into Syria
On July 11, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2533 authorising the extension of the Mechanism for Cross-Border Aid Delivery into Syria (CBM), with 12 votes in favour and three abstentions (Russia, China and the Dominican Republic).
The adoption of the resolution approved the preservation of the cross-border aid delivery to people in need in Idlib, which the Syrian Government is not controlling. The CBM has been extended for 12 months rather than six months as was the case previously, which will allow special UN bodies to improve the planning and preparations of their humanitarian missions. Aid will only be delivered across the Bab Al-Hawa crossing handling the majority of humanitarian aid (86 percent).
At the same time, we regret that Western countries have blocked the adoption of three amendments to the draft resolution submitted by Russia and China, which proposed that the regular reports on Syria by the UN Secretary-General should include information about the impact of unilateral sanctions, note progress in aid deliveries from the internal regions of Syria through the contact lines, and to emphasise measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic (a coordinated part from UNSC Resolution 2532). We abstained from voting on the resolution because these amendments have not been adopted, and in accordance with our position of principle in favour of the gradual curtailment of the CBM.
We would like to point out that Russia has always advocated the delivery of humanitarian aid to all those in need throughout Syria in strict compliance with the norms of international humanitarian law. The guidelines for the delivery of humanitarian aid formalised in UN General Assembly Resolution 46/182 say clearly that it should be provided with the consent and on the basis of an appeal by the affected country and based on respect for its sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity.
However, discussions at the UN Security Council have shown that Western countries have problems with this particular provision – respect for the norms and principles of international humanitarian law. This proves that these countries want to use the CBM together with their unilateral sanctions, which have been adopted in violation of the UN Security Council and extended contrary to the UN Secretary-General’s appeal to alleviate them amid the pandemic, in order to discriminate against the government-controlled regains and increase the suffering of the Syrians living there,
For our part, we hope that all the necessary measures will be taken in the coming period to ensure stable humanitarian aid deliveries to all parts of Syria from the internal regions and in coordination with Damascus. The revitalisation of humanitarian deliveries to north-eastern Syria after the closing of CB Al Yarubiyah on the Iraqi border has not only increased the satisfaction of the needs of the local population (from 35 percent in 2019 when CB Al Yarubiyah was open to 50 percent in the first half of 2020), but it has also shown that cross-border deliveries have a positive alternative.
Furthermore, we see no reasons for the continued delay of a joint aid convoy of the United Nations (UN), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) to Atarib and Darat Izza in the Idlib de-escalation zone. The mission has been coordinated with the Syrian Government for April 20. However, it has been postponed allegedly over fear of spreading the coronavirus infection to the north-western regions of Syria. According to UN information, the infection was reported in Idlib on July 10, which has only increased the urgent need to deliver aid to those in need.
Overall, the situation in Syria has changed dramatically since the establishment of the CBM six years ago. The Syrian Government has regained control over the bulk of the national territory and is providing active assistance to its citizens. In this context, we do not consider it practical to extend the CBM, which was adopted as a temporary emergency measure but is being increasingly used not for the declared humanitarian reasons but for political purposes, that is, for undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.