On Friday, July 8, Russia vetoed an attempt by the UN Security Council to extend for 12 months the delivery of UN aid to some 4 million people in northwest Syria, which is controlled by the opposition to the authorities. in Damascus.
The resolution needs nine “yes” votes for Russia, China, the United States, Britain or France not to veto. The resolution drafted by Ireland and Norway was supported by 13 countries, while China abstained.
“This is a matter of life and death. “Tragically, people will die because of this vote and the country that brazenly vetoed it,” said US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
The 15-member Security Council then voted down a proposal from Syria’s ally Russia to authorize the UN operation for six months and also to encourage a broad international effort to rebuild Syria. But, this initiative was not accepted as only Russia and China voted “for”, while the United States, Britain and France voted “against” and the remaining 10 members of the council abstained.
“This page of history has finally been turned and cannot be turned back,” Russian deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky said after the second vote, adding that Moscow would continue to provide aid to Syria “respecting the sovereignty and its territorial integrity”.
The United States, Britain and France said six months was not enough for aid groups to plan and work effectively.
Western powers are also opposed to funding a broad reconstruction effort until progress is made toward a political settlement in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 led to civil war.
The current mandate for Turkey’s UN aid operation in Syria expires on Sunday. The 15-member Council is expected to continue negotiations to see if an agreement can still be reached.
“We are not afraid of this veto. This is not the end of the road,” said Ireland’s ambassador to the UN, Geraldine Byrne Nason, speaking on behalf of Ireland and Norway.
China’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Yun, also called on all council members to “not give up” and continue negotiations. The United Arab Emirates ambassador to the UN, Lana Nuseibeh, proposed a possible nine-month extension “to ensure that the needs of millions of Syrians are met during the winter.”
The Security Council vote to approve the aid operation has been a contentious issue for years.
In 2014, the Security Council approved the delivery of humanitarian aid to opposition-controlled areas of Syria from Iraq, Jordan and two countries in Turkey. But the use of the veto by Russia and China reduced it to just one Turkish border crossing.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Council last month to extend approval for Turkey to send aid to northwestern Syria, saying “we cannot give up on the people of Syria”./REL
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