The UN Security Council agreed to extend its aid program for the rebel-held Idlib province and nearby areas in war-ravaged Syria through the Turkish border for the next six months on Tuesday, July 12. The program, approved last year as resolution 2585, had expired on July 10 following an earlier Russia veto on a resolution seeking to extend it for one year.
The UN claims that more than nearly 2.4 million people out of a total population of over 4 million living in north-east Syria need humanitarian aid. The UN claims most of the people in the region are internally displaced people affected by the decade long war. The numbers have been disputed by Syrian authorities on various grounds, however.
The region consisting mostly of Idlib province is the last rebel-held area in Syria. The so-called rebels are forces backed by Turkey and some other countries in the region, and have been fighting against president Bashar al-Assad’s rule since 2011.
The UN had established its cross border aid authorization process in 2014 when a much larger territory was under the control of anti-Assad forces. Initially, it had six border outposts for humanitarian aid delivery. All but Bab al-Hawa on the Turkish border were gradually closed due to reestablishment of control by the Syrian government.
Russia agreed for a six-month extension on the basis of the resolution proposed by Ireland and Norway which also provides for a briefing every two months and extension in January next year provided a new resolution is adopted for the same.
Russia had vetoed the resolution to extend the aid for one more year earlier on July 8. It had claimed that the aid flowing to rebel-held areas through the Turkish border without the permission of the Syrian government violates Syrian sovereignty and prevents the integration of the country.
UN aid to north-west Syria is coordinated with the anti-Assad forces whom Syria and Russia have accused of working with external forces to prolong the war condition in the country.
Syria has alleged that the current aid supply routes to rebel-held areas have been used to supply illegal military support to rebel forces fighting against Bashar al-Assad government. It has instead demanded that whatever aid to the region is required should flow through Syrian territories in coordination with the Syrian government.