UN’s ‘halfway house’ is no comfort for suffering Syrians
Islamic Relief is gravely concerned about the compromise agreed by the UN Security Council to maintain some cross-border aid deliveries into Syria after the expiry of a previous UN resolution on July 10. The interim arrangement authorises cross-border aid operations for a further year, but only through a single crossing point at Bab-el-Hawa.
This halfway house agreement offers no comfort to the millions of suffering Syrians driven from their homes and then further displaced by the conflict. A single crossing simply cannot cater for the huge humanitarian needs in northwest Syria. It threatens dire consequences for those who rely on outside aid to survive.
The Bab-el-Hawa crossing alone cannot provide sufficient access for aid agencies to reach all people in need in northwest Syria. The crossing is already under strain and operating at near maximum capacity. If aid shipments from other crossings, including Bab-al-Salam, have to be diverted through Bab-al-Hawa, it will make it extremely challenging to maintain the level of support for the victims of this brutal conflict that is so desperately needed. It will also make it much more difficult to scale up any response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
People across Syria, including northeast Syria, have been impacted by the denial of cross-border aid. Access through Bab-el-Hawa and Bab-al-Salam in the northwest must be re-authorised, and aid must reach all those in need.
In the midst of an increasing economic crisis, and with the additional challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic now having reached northwest Syria, many more people could be pushed further into poverty and to the brink of starvation.
Border closures and access constraints could slow the flow of much needed food supplies to a trickle in some places.
The UN Security Council needs to act urgently to ensure aid can reach all those in need across the whole of Syria.