Russia signals termination of UN aid to Syria from Turkey

A boy carries food aid provided by the United Nations World Food Program in Raqqa, Syria, April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Aboud Hamam

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia on Friday signaled the end of a long-running United Nations aid operation in northwest Syria from Turkey after vetoing a one-year extension and then failing in its bid for a six-month or more renewal. International Reconstruction Efforts.

The current UN Security Council mandate for UN humanitarian aid – including food, medicine and shelter – for some 4 million people in Turkey’s opposition-controlled northwest expires on Sunday.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, said that the only solution that Moscow would not use its veto is its solution. The draft resolution failed on Friday after only Russia and China voted for it. The United States, Britain and France voted against the Russian text, while the remaining 10 council members abstained.

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“I don’t see at this point any other option. Given the truth of the words that were said today, I think this has become almost impossible,” Polyansky told reporters, adding that another council member could once again put the Russian text to a vote.

Before its draft resolution failed, Russia had vetoed the one-year extension proposal – drafted by Ireland and Norway – which received 13 votes in favour. Despite the “borderless” strategic partnership with Moscow, China abstained from the vote.

“This is a life-and-death issue and it is tragic that people are going to die because of this vote and the country that shamelessly vetoed,” Linda Thomas Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations, told the council.

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“not cheerful”

China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun called on all council members to “not give up” and continue negotiations, while Ireland’s UN Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason said: “We are not intimidated by this veto. This is not the end of the road.”

However, when asked if Russia would again veto any draft text that was not its own, Polyansky replied: “Obviously.”

Russia says the UN aid operation violates Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It says more aid must be delivered from within the country, raising opposition fears that food and other aid will fall under the government’s control.

The United States, Britain and France said on Friday that the six-month extension was not enough for aid groups to plan and operate effectively.

Western powers are also reluctant to fund extensive reconstruction efforts until progress is made toward a political solution in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 led to a civil war.

The Security Council’s vote to authorize the aid operation has long been a contentious issue, but this year it also comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and Western powers over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

In 2014, the Security Council authorized the delivery of humanitarian aid to opposition-held areas of Syria from Iraq, Jordan and two points in Turkey. But the veto powers, Russia and China, reduced that to just one Turkish border post.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to the council last month to extend its approval of the aid operation, telling the organization: “We cannot abandon the people of Syria.”

Reported by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mary Milliken, Nick McPhee and Jonathan Otis

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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