Syria: the UN Commission of Inquiry wants the continuation of humanitarian operations via the only border post


The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria warned on Thursday that it would be a major failure if the Security Council did not extend current cross-border aid to Syria.

“It is inadmissible to consider closing the last border crossing when the needs are the greatest,” warned the UN investigators in a press release.

Last week, members of the Security Council expressed disturbingly opposing views on the need to extend this authorization, which has guaranteed access to desperately needed aid for millions of Syrians since 2014. A situation that intervenes as the country faces its “worst economic and humanitarian crisis” since the start of the conflict.

Three border crossings excluded from the scope of the resolution since 2020

For the Commission, the international community must preserve the existing cross-border aid, which saves lives.

“It is a moral abomination that a Security Council resolution was in itself deemed necessary to facilitate cross-border aid in the face of continued violations – by the Syrian government and other parties – of their obligations under the to authorize and facilitate humanitarian aid for civilians in need,” Paulo Pinheiro, Chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said in a statement.

The UN investigators also pointed to the “alarming trajectory of the steady shrinking of the cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid”. The Security Council first passed a resolution in 2014, allowing aid to flow into northern Syria through four border crossing points, even without the consent of the Syrian government.

Since 2020, three crossings have been excluded from the scope of the resolution, leaving Bab al-Hawa as the only remaining authorized border crossing. “It is unacceptable that the discussion seems to focus on whether to close the last authorized crossing point for aid, rather than on how to expand access to life-saving aid through the country and through all appropriate channels,” said commissioner Hanny Megally.

12 million people facing acute food insecurity

“All obstacles to humanitarian aid must be removed. This includes those caused by the sanctions, even if it is not intentional ”, pleaded for her part Lynn Welchman.

The Security Council vote comes as humanitarian needs across Syria are at their highest level since the start of the devastating 11-year conflict. According to the UN, 14.6 million Syrians now depend on humanitarian aid, the highest figure ever recorded. Across Syria, 12 million people face acute food insecurity – a staggering 51% increase since 2019.

In northwestern Syria, in areas still controlled by opposition groups, humanitarian conditions are deteriorating due to ongoing hostilities and a deepening economic crisis. More than 4 million people, 80% of whom are women and children, depend on aid there.

The diplomatic and socio-economic impact of the Ukrainian conflict

Through cross-border operations authorized by the Security Council, aid reaches around 2.4 million of them each month. According to UN investigators, this lifeline is vital for the population of northwestern Syria.

On another level, Paulo Pinheiro and his team are worried about the impact of the Ukrainian conflict in Syria. While undermining “diplomatic relations and communication channels on Syria within the Security Council”, it is also causing unprecedented economic hardship for Syria and its people.

UN investigators are thus reporting a sharp rise in prices, but also shortages of wheat and other basic products. “The rapid rise in unemployment is plunging larger and larger sections of the population into abject poverty,” they argued, also regretting the lack of funding for humanitarian operations in Syria.

“The international community cannot abandon the Syrian people now. They endured 11 years of devastating conflict that inflicted untold suffering on them. They have never been so impoverished and need our help,” Mr. Pinheiro concluded.

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