Russia and China have vetoed a last-ditch attempt by members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to extend approval – which expires on Friday – for humanitarian aid to be delivered across two border crossings into Syria from Turkey for the next six months.
The UN says millions of Syrian civilians in the mostly rebel-held northwest of the country depend on the humanitarian aid delivered from Turkey, describing it as a “lifeline”.
The remaining 13 council members voted in favour of the German-Belgian draft resolution on Friday. The UN authorisation, which allows the body to distribute aid to displaced Syrians without needing permission from Damascus, is due to expire later in the day.
Third failed vote
The 15-member council has been split, with most members pitted against Syrian allies Russia and China, who want to cut the number of border crossings to one, arguing those areas can be reached with humanitarian help from within Syria.
This was the third failed vote on the issue by the council and the second veto by Russia and China this week.
The UNSC first authorised the cross-border aid operation into Syria six years ago, which also included access from Jordan and Iraq. Those crossings were cut in January due to opposition by Russia and China.
On Tuesday, Russia and China vetoed a bid to extend for a year-long approval which would have allowed for the maintenance of two crossing points on the Turkish border – at Bab al-Salam, which leads to the Aleppo region, and Bab al-Hawa, which serves the Idlib region.
Russia then failed to win enough support on Wednesday for its proposal to authorise one crossing for six months.
Germany and Belgium, two non-permanent Council members responsible for the humanitarian aspect of the UN’s Syria dossier, presented the draft on Thursday that was put to vote on Friday.
“We categorically reject claims that Russia wants to stop humanitarian deliveries to the Syrian population in need,” Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy wrote in a tweet ahead of the vote.