The Syrian Emergency Task Force Condemns Russia’s Veto to the Resolution Extending UN Cross-Border Mechanism
WASHINGTON, DC – The Syrian Emergency Task Force condemns Russia’s decision to veto the Security Council resolution extending the mandate of the UN cross-border mechanism for Syria.
The resolution, introduced by co-penholders Ireland and Norway, proposed a further one-year extension of the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing into Northwest Syria, which provides life-saving humanitarian aid to over 4 million civilians living in the region. The resolution, proposed after months of negotiations, received thirteen votes in favor, one abstention (China) and one veto (Russia).
As the United States’ Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield put it in a speech moments after the vote, “this is a dark, dark day in the Security Council. […] Russia chose to close hospitals and schools in Syria.” In fact, of the over 4 million civilians living in Northwest Syria, 1 million are children. These are the same people who, since 2015, have been forced to live under constant bombardment from Russian warplanes, forced to flee their homes in order to escape death at the hands of the Assad regime and their Iranian allies on the ground.
Today, the Security Council has failed to carry out one of its core functions and ensure life-saving aid for millions due to one of its permanent members who has, for the better part of the last decade, held the Syrian people hostage. After declaring, during the meeting, that “this page in history has been turned [and] cannot be turned back,” in an interview soon after the vote, Amb. Polyanskiy of Russia stated that he would “obviously” veto any other resolution which might be proposed in the Council. It is now imperative that the international community commit to the provision of this life-saving aid, even without a UN mandate.
The Syrian Emergency Task Force calls on the international community to ensure that aid is provided with continuity by establishing an independent mechanism outside of the United Nations. The humanitarian needs of the Syrian people have increased exponentially over the years, and it is time that they are met through a stable, independent and sufficient process.