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3 Jun, 2021 16:50

Millions on brink of disaster in Syria unless cross-border humanitarian operations extended, warns UN official

Millions on brink of disaster in Syria unless cross-border humanitarian operations extended, warns UN official

A senior UN official has warned that millions of people in northwest Syria are at risk of disaster if the international community fails to agree to extend cross-border humanitarian operations by next month.

Speaking on Thursday, UN deputy regional humanitarian coordinator Mark Cuttis issued the warning about the threat posed to those displaced by fighting in Syria and those who have fled to the border with Turkey. 

“Our expectation from the council is that they put the needs of the civilians first… In northwest Syria you have some of the most vulnerable people anywhere in the world,” Cutts told reporters.

It’s going to be a disaster if the Security Council resolution is not extended. We know that people are really going to suffer.

Cross-border aid and humanitarian operations entering Syria from Turkey were restricted last year to one border crossing after a disagreement on the UN Security Council over plans to renew other crossing areas, with the issue due for renewal by the body’s members next month. 

The one remaining crossing point, at Bab al-Hawa, currently facilitates the passage of around 1,000 UN trucks per month entering Syria bringing food, humanitarian aid and medical supplies. 

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Russia, which had initially opposed the renewal of the crossing points over concerns about what forces are using them, recently proposed the reopening of three points in Idlib and Aleppo to relieve the humanitarian situation. However, Turkey has opposed the move due to a resurgence of violence in northwest Syria.

The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, supported the renewal of all crossing points, calling it a “lifeline” for individuals in the region and warning that continuing the closures “will cause senseless cruelty.”

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