US News Syria: vote requested by the UN on the authorization of cross-border aid, Russian veto expected
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Germany and Belgium have asked for a vote at the UN Security Council on a draft resolution extending cross-border humanitarian aid in Syria which Russia should oppose with a veto, according to diplomats.
The result of the vote is expected Tuesday at the end of the day. "We are going to have a Russian veto," a diplomat said on condition of anonymity, a prediction shared by other diplomatic sources.
The project of Germany and Belgium, two non-permanent members of the Security Council responsible for the humanitarian aspect of the Syrian file at the UN, demands a year of extension of the authorization which is freed from any endorsement of Damascus to deliver humanitarian aid.
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The text maintains the two entry points currently used at the Turkish-Syrian border, at Bab al-Salaam and Bab al-Hawa and requests an extension for one year, until July 10, 2021, of the device which expires this Friday .
Diplomats told AFP last week that Russia, during negotiations, had asked for an extension of only six months and to remove the entry point of Bab al-Salaam, which is less used than that of Bab al-Hawa .
Access by the latter locality makes it possible in particular to deliver humanitarian aid to the approximately 3 to 4 million people living in the Idleb region (north-west) which is beyond the control of Damascus.
If Russia vetoes the German-Belgian text, a position that China could also adopt, it will be the 15th Russian veto since the start of the war in Syria in 2011.
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- "People are suffering" -
In addition to Westerners, who plead for an extension of the authorization and even for its reinforcement whereas the pandemic of Covid-19 reached Syria, the UN also pleaded for a year of extension with at least two points of entry to the Turkish border.
In January, Moscow, Syria's first supporter and in a position of strength on this file at the UN, had already reduced the number of entry points from four to two and had limited the authorization to six months instead of the annual agreement given so far.
Russia, like China, considers that the UN authorization violates the sovereignty of Syria and that aid can pass through the Syrian authorities in favor of their resumption of control of territories.
The two countries had at the end of December used a veto to oppose the German-Belgian will to extend the authorization for one year with four entry points into the country. The use of its veto by Beijing had surprised diplomats, some evoking a first on this subject for a text with humanitarian vocation.
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Westerners recognize that cross-border authorization is a violation of the sovereignty of Syria over its territory. But they believe that this device has no credible alternative. They highlight in particular the multiple bureaucratic obstacles posed by the Syrian regime to the delivery of aid when it passes through Damascus.
In a report at the end of June, the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, called for a one-year extension of the cross-border system and the maintenance of the two current entry points at the Turkish border.
In this document, Antonio Guterres indicates that, since 2014, 4,774 trucks have used the Bab al-Salaam entry point and 28,574 that of Bab al-Hawa.
"We hope for a consensus" and the German-Belgian draft text "corresponds to the need of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs of the UN (Ocha)", said Tuesday morning the German ambassador to the United Nations, Christoph Heusgen.
According to a report published Tuesday by the UN in Geneva, the Idleb region, the last insurgent stronghold in north-west Syria, continues to suffer a disastrous humanitarian situation.
Among the authors of the report, Hanny Megally, stressed at a press conference that the "economy of Syria was devastated". "The country has been in conflict for nine years" and "people are suffering," she said, hoping for an extension of the UN's border system.
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