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UN chief says no choice but to ship aid across Syria's border

By AFP

Added 17th December 2019 06:46 AM

Negotiations are underway to open the fifth crossing, at Tel Abyad on the Turkish border with northern Syria, to cope with the extra needs created by a Turkish offensive in the area earlier this year.

UN chief says no choice but to ship aid across Syria's border

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Photo/AFP

Negotiations are underway to open the fifth crossing, at Tel Abyad on the Turkish border with northern Syria, to cope with the extra needs created by a Turkish offensive in the area earlier this year.

The United Nations has no choice but to keep shipping humanitarian aid across Syria's borders and civil war front lines, according to a report by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, which ran into contrary views from Russia.
 
Security Council members are debating the renewal of the operation, whose mandate expires January 10. 
 
"It is in no one's interest to block this resolution," one diplomat told AFP, asking not to be named.
 
Four entry points into Syria -- two from Turkey, one from Jordan and one from Iraq -- are currently used to ferry aid to the millions in need after eight years of conflict. 
 
Negotiations are underway to open the fifth crossing, at Tel Abyad on the Turkish border with northern Syria, to cope with the extra needs created by a Turkish offensive in the area earlier this year.
 
The fifth crossing is mentioned in the draft resolution brought by Germany, Belgium and Kuwait, who handle the Council's Syria humanitarian file.
 
They propose a one-year extension of the mission.
 
Moscow wants only a six-month renewal.
 
Diplomats said that on Monday that Russia sent the Council an alternate draft resolution, which proposes the elimination of two of the current four crossing points.
 
Moscow sees the situation on the ground as having changed with the Syrian regime's retaking of territory. It proposed the closure of al-Yarubiya between Syria and Iraq, as well as al-Ramtha on the Jordan border.
 
Russia's approach is far from the wishes expressed by Guterres in his report.
 
To distribute humanitarian aid, crossing borders and front lines is indispensable, he said.
 
"The United Nations does not have an alternative means of reaching people in need in the areas in which cross-border assistance is being provided," Guterres said in the report he recently submitted to the Security Council and which AFP obtained on Monday.
 
"Humanitarian assistance provided by United Nations agencies included food for an average of 4.3 million people in need each month and more than 1.3 million health and medical treatments to people throughout the country," Guterres noted.
 
"Cross-border assistance... remained a vital part of the humanitarian response" to the more than 11 million people in need," he added.
 
The report said that the overall situation in Syria deteriorated even further in 2019 and added that everything should be done to avoid a military offensive in the northwestern area of Idlib, an enclave outside of government control where about three million people currently live.       

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