New York, Dec 20 (IANS) The UN Security Council has decided to postpone its vote to renew the authorization for cross-border aid delivery in Syria as its members attempted at the last minute to reach an agreement.
According to diplomatic sources, the vote originally scheduled for Thursday could take place on Friday or later, depending on whether an agreement is reached or not, reports Efe news.
The delay was meant to avoid a veto of Russia, the great ally of the Syrian government, who wants to cut this humanitarian mechanism coordinated by the UN.
Germany, Belgium and Kuwait, countries responsible for drafting a resolution on Syria in the Security Council, amended in the last hours their original proposal to try to please Moscow, for now without success.
They initially wanted a one-year renewal of the mechanism in force since 2014, adding a fifth border crossing point to facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations, a plan endorsed by the UN.
After strong opposition from Russia, they opted to reduce the number of authorized crossing points from four to three and considered the option to review it in six months.
Russia, which has proposed its own resolution draft, wants to renew the operation for half a year and seeks to close two crossing points, leaving only two left on the border with Turkey. Russia and Turkey have a pact in this regard and those crossing points are used to access areas not controlled by the Syrian government.
According to diplomatic sources, the Russian delegation does not have sufficient support to carry out its initiative, but could veto the proposal that has a majority backing.
Moscow insists that the mechanism has to change to adapt to the new reality on the ground, mainly to the greater territorial control that the government of Bashar al-Assad now has.
As for the other bloc – in addition to maintaining the two border crossing points with Turkey – it argued it was necessary to keep the one on the border with Iraq, a point through which a good part of the medicines provided by international agencies enters.
UN humanitarian services warned Thursday that millions of people will be left to their fate if the mechanism in force is not renewed.
“Without the cross-border operation, we would see an immediate end of aid supporting millions of civilians. That would cause a rapid increase in hunger and disease, resulting in death, suffering and further displacement,” warned Ursula Mueller, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.
The current mechanism will expire on January 10, 2020. Therefore, the Security Council still has a bit of time before the deadline arrives.