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NGOs oppose Russia plan to close last aid crossing into NW Syria

June 25, 2021 at 3:01 pm

International humanitarian aid trucks cross into Syria’s northwestern Idlib province through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, on 7 September 2020. [AAREF WATAD/AFP via Getty Images]

Numerous non-governmental organisations carrying out aid missions in north-west Syria have issued a joint press release opposing the planned closure of the last crossing for humanitarian aid to enter the area, warning that it will threaten the lives of over four million Syrians.

The 81 NGOs – consisting of those which are both local and international – condemned Russia’s plan to use its veto at the United Nations Security Council meeting next month, which would close the Bab Al-Hawa crossing on the border between Turkey and Syria.

Since becoming the only crossing for humanitarian aid to come into north-west Syria following the closure of the other crossings last year, the provision of aid has been severely restricted and many fear a further humanitarian crisis if Bab Al-Hawa is also closed.

The head of the Human Aid Society Khalid Al-Fajir, who led the joint press release and announced it at a displacement camp in north-west Syria, stated: “Closing this door will lead to 4.5 million civilians, mostly children and women, being deprived of incoming aid.”

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“Some countries are putting in efforts against this decision,” he added.

Al-Fajir and the joint statement stressed: “Any decision against humanitarian aid will lead to a disaster in the region,” and called on the UNSC member states “to fulfil their commitments on the neutrality of humanitarian aid and to renew the Security Council resolution.”

“We also want to point out that it is unacceptable that we have to emphasize the importance of the cross-border assistance mechanism every year,” the statement read. “The U.N.’s authority for cross-border humanitarian access must be protected.”

The upcoming UNSC meeting and the decision following that will come just over a month after the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad, which Russia backs, was elected to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) executive board, sparking further fears that it would use that position to cut aid to the opposition-held north-west province of Idlib.