Russia prepares for conflict with UN over Syria aid deliveries

Russia has prepared the groundwork for another dispute over whether the United Nations Security Council should extend the authorization for humanitarian aid deliveries from Turkey to about 4 million people in northwestern Syria, which is due to expire on January 10.

Since 2014, the 15-member council has authorised the operation, which delivers food, medicine, and shelter to an opposition-controlled area of Syria, since Syrian authorities did not agree to the operation.

In a report to the Security Council this month, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described Turkey’s aid access as “a lifeline for millions of people”and emphasised its importance, describing it as a ‘moral and humanitarian imperative.’

The Kremlin believes that the U.N. operation in Syria violates the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which has supported President Bashar al-Assad since the civil war began in 2011. In addition, the Russians fear that food and other aid would be controlled by the government if they were delivered from within the country, which is why they oppose the idea.

In his report to the council, Guterres said that aid deliveries from within Syria “remain unable to replace the size or scope of the massive United Nations cross-border operation.”

Hunger will rise without United Nations cross-border access to the north-west of the country, Guterres said. Millions will lose shelter assistance, and water access will decrease if that happens, he said.

In 2014, the Security Council authorized aid deliveries into opposition-held areas of Syria from Iraq, Jordan, and two Turkish border crossings. However, Russia and China, which have veto powers, have limited that to just one Turkish border crossing.


Image Credit: Sergey Guneev / Associated Press