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Russia vetoes 12-month extension of UN aid into Syria from Turkiye

The current mandate for the UN aid operation into Syria from Turkiye expires on Sunday

July 9, 2022 at 10:10 am

Russia, on Friday, vetoed a bid to extend UN Security Council approval for 12 months of UN aid deliveries to some 4 million people in opposition-controlled north-west Syria from Turkiye, Reuters reports.

The resolution, drafted by Ireland and Norway, received 13 votes in favour, while China abstained. A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, Britain or France to be adopted.

“This is a life and death issue. And tragically, people will die because of this vote and the country who shamelessly deployed the veto,” US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the Council.

The 15-member Council then voted on a proposal by Russia, a Syrian ally, to approve the UN operation for six months and also push for broad international reconstruction efforts in Syria. It failed with only Russia and China voting in favour, while the United States, Britain and France voted against it and the remaining 10 council members abstained.

“This page of history has finally been turned and cannot be turned back,” Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy, told the Council after the second vote, adding that Moscow would continue to provide aid to Syria “with respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

The United States, Britain and France said six months is not long enough for aid groups to plan and operate effectively.

Western powers are also against funding broad reconstruction efforts until progress is made toward a political solution in Syria, where a crackdown by President Bashar Al-Assad on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 led to civil war.

The current mandate for the UN aid operation into Syria from Turkiye expires on Sunday. The 15-member Council is now expected to continue negotiations to see if an agreement can still be reached.

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

“We’re not daunted by this veto. This is not the end of the road,” said Ireland’s UN Ambassador, Geraldine Byrne Nason, speaking on behalf of Ireland and Norway.

China’s UN Ambassador, Zhang Jun, also called on all Council members “not to give up” and to continue negotiations. United Arab Emirates UN Ambassador, Lana Nusseibeh, suggested a possible nine-month extension “to ensure that the needs of millions of Syrians will be served through the winter.”

The Security Council vote on the authorisation of the aid operation has been a contentious issue for years.

In 2014, the Security Council authorised humanitarian aid deliveries into opposition-held areas of Syria from Iraq, Jordan and two points in Turkiye. But veto powers, Russia and China, have whittled that down to just one Turkish border point.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, appealed to the Council last month to extend its approval of the aid deliveries from Turkiye into north-west Syria, telling the body: “We cannot give up on the people of Syria.”

Russian airstrikes in Syria - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Russian airstrikes in Syria – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]