UN Secretary-General António Guterres has welcomed a decision by the Security Council to extend the UN cross-border aid operation in Northwest Syria for another 12 months.
Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the Secretary-General, said this while briefing correspondents at the UN headquarters on Friday in New York, on the situation in Syria.
Dujarric said the authorisation to continue using the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, due to expire on Saturday, was essential, as it “remains a lifeline for millions of people in the area and beyond.”
“The re-authorisation will ensure that humanitarian assistance continues for over 3.4 million people in need, including one million children.
“However, needs continue to outstrip the response. As the secretary-general has highlighted to the Council, with additional crossings and expanded funding, the UN could do more to help the rising number of people in need,’’ he said.
According to him, the UN continues to engage with all parties to also facilitate crossline convoys and they are critical for the expansion of the overall response as humanitarian needs continue to grow.
“The secretary-general reiterates his call on all parties to the conflict to ensure humanitarian access to all people in need, in accordance with international humanitarian law.’’
Meanwhile, in a statement on Friday, the UN Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Mark Cutts, said that people across Syria “are worse off than at any time since the conflict began 10 years ago.
“The suffering is heart breaking in the northwest, where millions of people, most of them women and children, have been trapped along the border with Turkey in an active war zone,’’ he said.
According to him, more than 1,000 trucks of humanitarian supplies cross the border every month.
Cutts said when one million people were displaced in 2020 in the Northwest, humanitarian workers were able to provide them with food, medicines, protection and shelter.
“In May, 26,000 people received their first COVID-19 vaccination, thanks to the border crossing,’’ he said.
“We can only hope that one day soon there will be a political solution to the conflict in Syria”, said the aid coordinator, “meanwhile, we can save lives through vital cross-border access.
“By renewing authorisation before it runs out this 10 July, the Security Council will ensure that millions of civilians trapped in a war zone continue to get the help they so desperately need,” he added.