Russia signals end of UN aid to Syria from Turkey

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

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UNITED NATIONS, July 8 (Reuters) – Russia on Friday signaled the end of a long UN aid operation to northwestern Syria from Turkey after vetoing a one-year extension. year, then failed in his own campaign for a renewal of six months and more. international reconstruction efforts.

The current UN Security Council mandate for UN humanitarian assistance – including food, medicine and shelter – to some 4 million people in Syrian-controlled northwestern Syria opposition expires Sunday.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, said the only solution Moscow would not veto was its own. That draft resolution fell through on Friday after only Russia and China voted in favor. The United States, Britain and France voted against the Russian text, while the other 10 council members abstained.

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“I don’t see any other option at this point. Given the words that have been spoken today, I think it has been made almost impossible,” Polyanskiy told reporters, adding that another board member could put Russia’s text to a vote again.

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

“It’s a matter of life and death and tragically, people will die because of this vote and the country that shamelessly rolled out the veto,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at the advice.

‘NOT DAUNTED’

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

However, when asked if Russia would again veto any draft text that was not its own, Polyanskiy replied, “Of course.”

Russia argues that the UN aid operation violates Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It says more aid should be flown in from within the country, raising fears among the opposition that food and other aid could fall under government control.

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

Western powers are also against funding broad reconstruction efforts until progress is made towards a political solution in Syria, where a crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 led to civil war.

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

In 2014, the Security Council authorized deliveries of humanitarian aid to opposition-held areas in Syria from Iraq, Jordan and two points in Turkey. But the veto powers of Russia and China have reduced this to a single Turkish border point.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last month called on the council to extend its approval of the aid operation, telling the body: “We cannot abandon the Syrian people.”

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Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mary Milliken, Nick Macfie and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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