Amnesty International called on the United Nations to continue delivering aid to northwestern Syria through all border crossings, including the one through which the Syrian regime gave access for three months after the earthquake, although it does not control them.
The human rights organization’s report, issued on Friday, May 12, stated that as millions of people affected by the earthquake continue to depend on United Nations cross-border aid to survive, it must continue to deliver aid through the “Bab al-Salama” and “Al-Rai” crossings after the end of the crisis. The validity of the Syrian regime’s permit is today, Saturday, May 13, regardless of whether it will renew this approval or not.
According to Amnesty International’s legal analysis, the impartial delivery of humanitarian aid across the Syrian border to civilians in need without authorization from the United Nations Security Council or the approval of the regime’s government is legal under international law.
“During the critical first few days following the earthquake, the delivery of essential humanitarian aid through additional border crossings and support for search and rescue teams was delayed, due to continued arbitrary restrictions on aid by the Syrian government and the indecision of the United Nations,” said Amnesty representative to the United Nations, Sherine Tadros. use of border crossings not authorized by the Security Council.
“These calculations have come at a huge cost to civilians in Syria in opposition-held areas,” according to the organization, which added, “The United Nations must take a clear stand against the relentless political machinations that have impeded its humanitarian operations in northern Syria for several years.”
Since July 2020, the United Nations has provided aid to northwestern Syria only through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey.
In the wake of the earthquake that struck northern Syria and southern Turkey on February 6, the United Nations sent its first shipments of aid to northwestern Syria on the fifth day of the earthquake. This delay, in addition to the failure to expand its aid response, exacerbated humanitarian needs and impeded the work Search and rescue teams.
It was not until February 13 that the government of the regime agreed to temporarily open two additional crossings from Turkey to northwestern Syria for a period of three months that ends today.--
The Syrian regime does not control these two crossings, and they are under the control of the Syrian opposition, which manages most of the crossings on the Syrian-Turkish border.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, the Syrian regime has arbitrarily restricted aid access in opposition-held areas of Syria, and has used starvation of civilians as a “weapon of war” by depriving them of food, medicine, and other necessities.
In July 2014, the Security Council established the United Nations Cross-Border Aid Delivery Mechanism, allowing the United Nations and its partners to provide aid to northwestern Syria without the authorization of the regime’s government.
Russia, which is a permanent member of the Security Council and enjoys veto power, has long challenged the cross-border mechanism, arguing that it “violates Syria’s sovereignty.” Since 2014, it has reduced the time frame and geographical scope of the decision, leaving Bab al-Hawa as the only border crossing. It is authorized to deliver humanitarian aid, and its permit is also scheduled to expire next July unless the Security Council renews it.
In 2016, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) argued that in exceptional cases, a state’s arbitrary refusal of life-saving assistance to civilians in dire need temporarily curtails its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The two options for providing this aid include obtaining a permit from the UN Security Council or providing aid without a permit on the basis of “urgent necessity,” which is what is happening in northwestern Syria, which indicates the legality of the move.
Amnesty International called on the United Nations General Assembly to stress the necessity of providing humanitarian aid across the Syrian border, and to reiterate its condemnation of the regime’s arbitrary refusal of neutral aid across the border.