UN powers bicker, fail to extend Syria aid deliveries

UN powers bicker, fail to extend Syria aid deliveries

Russia and the United States failed on Friday to agree on the details of extending a key aid delivery program from Turkey to rebel-held Syrian territories.

According to UN data, almost 4,650 truckloads of aid went through Bab al-Hawa border crossing into Syria in the first six months of the year, serving as a lifeline for some 2.4 million people on the Syrian side of the border. The aid scheme is due to expire on Sunday.

Both Russia and the US said they were in favor of extending the program. But Russia vetoed a resolution proposed by Ireland and Norway that called for effectively extending the scheme for 12 months, arguing a year-long extension would be too long. Moscow is allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad and sees cross-border deliveries without the approval of the Syrian regime as violating Syria’s sovereignty. Russian diplomats have also urged for more aid to be delivered via Damascus.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russia was putting its “own political interests above the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people.”

“This is a life and death issue,” she said. “Tragically, people will die because of this vote and the country who shamelessly deployed the veto.”

US rejects Russia’s counter-proposal

Russia tried to garner support for its own initiative that would extend the initiative by six months with additional resolutions required to prolong the scheme past the six-month point. The Russian-proposed document also calls for a broad reconstruction effort in war-ravaged Syria.

But the US, the UK, and France voted against it, and 10 non-permanent Council members abstained. Only Russia and China voted in favor of Moscow’s proposal.

Washington, London and Paris countered that six months was not enough for aid groups to plan and operate. Western powers also claim more political progress is needed in Syria before the international community funds a reconstruction effort.

Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy accused the West of “stubbornness.”

Hope remains for an eventual deal

Delegates are now expected to continue consultations to see if the agreement can still be reached.

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

The US, China, Russia, France, and the UK wield veto power at the Security Council, meaning that no Council resolution could be passed if they vote against it. But the US and its allies are engaged in a wide-reaching standoff with Russia over the Ukraine war, and an escalating rivalry with China on trade and security issues, making compromises in the world’s most powerful body increasingly difficult.

dj/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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Last Update: Fri, 08 Jul 22 16:57:05