UN Security Council gives in to Russia, extends aid to Syria for only 6 months
The UN Security Council on Tuesday voted to extend the mandate for aid deliveries to people in rebel-held areas of northwest Syria for six months.
The big picture: The mandate had expired on Sunday after Russia vetoed a plan for a one-year extension, and vowed to do the same for any resolution extending the mandate for more than than six months.
- Humanitarian aid organizations had warned that anything less than a year-long extension would jeopardize the humanitarian response in Syria's Idlib province, especially in the approaching winter months.
Driving the news: The extension passed in a 12-0 vote, with three abstensions, including the U.S.
- "Today, the United States abstained on a United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria cross-border humanitarian aid. The reason is simple: this was a mandate that was held hostage by the Russian Federation," U.S. Ambassador to the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement.
- "Our approach, unlike Russia’s, is driven by humanitarian needs," she added.
- Tuesday's resolution can be extended for another six months after it expires in January.
What they're saying: “While we are relieved that the Security Council has finally voted to renew the cross-border resolution for Syria, IRC finds it inexplicable on humanitarian grounds the reduction from 12 months to six months in the operation of the Bab al Hawa cross border operation from Turkey into Syria," International Rescue Committee president and CEO David Miliband said in a statement Tuesday.
- Miliband said needs in northwest Syria have increased by 20% over the last year, with more than 2 million people reliant on cross-border assistance for survival.
- "Despite recent progress on cross-line assistance the same will be said in 6 months time, and so there really can be no justification for having cut the timeline short," he added. Tuesday's resolution "demonstrates that in the eyes of the Council cross-border assistance is still absolutely essential. Come January next year this will inevitably still be the case.”