After both Russia and China vetoed a U.N. resolution backing the opening of two-border crossing to deliver aid to needy Syria, Russia introduced its own resolution. However, the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected it. The main reason because it would have cut back the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria’s mainly rebel-held northwest to just one crossing point from Turkey. In summary, Russia is playing god with Syrian lives.
Western countries that voted against the resolution have insisted on keeping the two current crossings from Turkey. With strong backing from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and humanitarian groups. U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock has called the two crossings from Turkey “a lifeline for millions of civilians whom the U.N. cannot reach by other means.”
Russia and China vetoed the crossings to force the west to manage its aid program with help from Assad. In the past, Assad has ignored the rebels fighting his rule. Instead, the regime distributed western aid to Assad armed forces. Just to impose Assad to steal the aid, Russia and China are willing to let millions of Syrians starve.
THE VOTE REFLECTS RUSSIAN STANDING ON THE GLOBAL STAGE
The Russian resolution needed a minimum of nine “yes” votes in the 15-member council for approval. Moscow, however, got support from only three other countries — China, Vietnam and South Africa.
Its failure to get the nine votes meant the U.S., U.K. and France didn’t need to veto the Russian resolution. Those three permanent council members voted against the resolution along with Germany, Belgium, Estonia and the Dominican Republic. Four countries abstained — Tunisia, Niger, Indonesia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Russia, Assad’s ally, circulated the draft resolution after it joined China on Tuesday in vetoing a draft resolution co-sponsored by Germany and Belgium to maintain aid deliveries through two border crossing points from Turkey for a year. That resolution received 13 “yes” votes.
The current Security Council mandate for U.N. cross-border aid deliveries expires Friday; but the Security Council expects Germany and Belgium to circulate a new proposal. One that is likely to authorize the two current crossings from Turkey for six months.
In a joint statement after the vote, Germany and Belgium said that:
Millions of people are counting on the Security Council to allow for as much humanitarian access as possible … (and) we will keep on working to this end.
RUSSIA WANTS ASSAD TO CONTROL THE AID
Whether the five veto-wielding council members can resolve their differences in the next 48 hours remains a mystery.
Russia has argued that Assad delivers the aid from within Syria across conflict lines. But the U.N. and humanitarian groups say aid for 2.8 million needy people in the northwest can’t get it.
U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft accused Russia and China of “breathtaking callousness and dishonesty”, and distorting the realities on the ground. Ambassador Craft said that the actions of Russia and China in both resolutions underscore “a harrowing truth — that Russia and China have decided that millions of Syrian lives are an insignificant cost of their partnership with the murderous Assad regime,”
Moutaz Adham, the Syria director for the humanitarian group Oxfam, called the council’s failure to reach agreement “a devastating blow to the millions of Syrian families who rely on this aid for clean water, food, health care and shelter.”
Cross-border aid is needed now more than ever, as Syrians face the threat of COVID-19. All available avenues for delivering aid will be critical in helping the more than 11 million people in need of assistance across Syria.
RUSSIA IS PLAYING GOD WITH SYRIAN LIVES
The Moscow apartment buildings Putin bombed in Moscow to rise to power. He killed 300 innocent civilians and injured 1,000.
In January, Russia scored a victory for Syria, using its veto threat to force the Security Council to adopt a resolution reducing the number of crossing points for aid deliveries from four to just two, from Turkey to the northwest. It also cut in half the yearlong mandate that had been in place since cross-border deliveries began in 2014 to six months.
The defeated German-Belgian resolution had dropped a call for the re-opening of an Iraqi crossing to the northeast to deliver medical supplies for the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “Do not waste your time on efforts to reopen the closed cross-border points.”
The German-Belgian resolution would have extended the mandate for the two border crossings from Turkey to the northwest — Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa — for a year.
The Russian-drafted resolution would only authorize cross-border deliveries through the Bab al-Hawa for six months.
Germany’s U.N. ambassador, Christoph Heusgen, said that while the Bab Al-Hawa crossing is used to deliver aid to Idlib province, the Bab al-Salam crossing reaches the region north of Aleppo, where an additional 300,000 Syrians displaced by the last offensive are now sheltering.
Both areas are separated by conflict lines.
SANCTIONS AGAINST THE REGIME, NOT THE SYRIAN PEOPLE
The Russian draft also injected the issue of U.S. and European Union sanctions into the debate.
China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun on Tuesday blamed unilateral sanctions against Syria. He claimed they exacerbated the country’s humanitarian situation and urged that the west lifts them.
The Russian draft expressed “grave concern” at “the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures”. It said such measures “worsen the socio-economic and humanitarian situations, undermine the livelihoods of civilians, and further compromise the capacity of Syria to ensure access to food, essential health supplies and medical support to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to provide a report on “direct and indirect impact of unilateral coercive measures” on humanitarian deliveries and Syria’s socio-economic situation by Aug. 31.
The United States and the EU have stated repeatedly that their sanctions have exemptions for humanitarian aid.
Germany’s Heusgen said in a statement after the vote that EU sanctions “are exclusively targeted at representatives of the authorities in Damascus”. The west introduced them “because of the repressive policies of the Assad regime against the civilian population of Syria” and its violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
AP contributed to this article.