July 19, 2023 ・ Press Office

Northwest Syria, UN humanitarian aid cut off: «We have been left alone»

On July 17th about 300 people demonstrated in Bab al-Hawa against the decision of the UN Security Council not to extend the authorization for the crossing on the Syrian-Turkish border, with potentially catastrophic effects for 6 million people living in North-west Syria. Bab al-Hawa is a crucial crossing point for humanitarian aid in the region, which has been devastated by 12 years of war and severely hit by February's earthquakes.

The demonstration involved several aid workers from local organizations and a representative of Still I Rise international organization. They protested against Russia's veto, which blocked the agreement at the UN Security Council, and the Damascus government's request to grant the UN use of the crossing under the condition of total control of aid by the regime itself.

«The UN, Russia, and the Syrian regime are politicizing this aid with a vote to get it through the regime in Damascus,» says Abdulkafi Alhamdo, Programme Manager of Still I Rise in northwestern Syria. «We have lost trust in the International Community, and the message coming through is definitely clear: we are left alone».

The Security Council's authorization for the passage of humanitarian aid to the Syrian-Turkish border, which expired on July 10th, is necessary since the Damascus government does not recognize the UN operation on sovereignty grounds. The mandate had already expired in 2020 and 2022, but a political agreement had been found within the next 24 hours.

After the failure to reach an agreement in the Security Council, the UN will now have to halt deliveries of humanitarian aid through Bab al-Hawa or decide to submit to the regime's demands, pending a new vote, which is currently not on the agenda. The crossings at Bab al-Salameh and Al-Ra'ee will remain open, but these are not enough to supply the population in the region, three-quarters of which consists of women and children.

«Here, there are still 2 million people living in tents, in extremely difficult conditions, without a home or food to survive,» Abdulkafi Alhamdo explains. «The survival of these people is a priority and should not be put to a vote. Human life is much more precious».

«In the last few months already, UN support had proved insufficient. After the earthquake, no action was taken to change the situation on the ground,» says Abdulkafi Alhamdo. Then, he explains, humanitarian aid started to gradually decrease, until it was cut off for most people: «We cannot go on, millions of people are at risk of not surviving».


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