UN chief underlines cross-border aid to Syria as vital

UN Secretary-General António Guterres calls attention to cross-border aid to Syria as the UN's authorization to provide aid in the country is set to expire.

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Cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria remains vital, the United Nations Secretary-General said in an internal report on Tuesday.

The comment came as a UN authorization allowing aid into Syria’s northwest is set to expire.

The extension of UN activities at Bab Al-Hawa, the only border crossing through which aid reaches Idlib province, was agreed upon in July in a rare moment of cooperation between the US and Russia. That authorization is due to expire on January 10.

“Cross-border assistance remains lifesaving for millions of people in need in north-west Syria,” António Guterres said, adding that over four million people were in need of crucial assistance across the country.

In Tuesday’s document, the UN chief further refers to an alternative project for aid to reach Idlib.

“If implemented, this plan will make operations across the front lines more predictable and effective,” Guterres noted.

However, he insisted upon the importance of the Bab Al-Hawa crossing.

“At this point such cross-line convoys, even if deployed regularly, could not replicate the size and scope of the cross-border operation,” he said.

The US and several European nations believe the UN authorization for the crossing between Syria and Turkey should renew automatically for an additional six months, without the need for a new vote.

The cross-border mechanism has been operating since 2020 through Bab Al-Hawa.

More than three million people live in Idlib province. According to the UN, around 2.4 million people there were in need of humanitarian aid.

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