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Russia expects cross-border aid mechanism for Syria to be phased out

MOSCOW, January 13. /TASS/. The UN Security Council’s resolution on cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria is the first step towards fully phasing out that mechanism, which violates the country’s sovereignty, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

According to the document, aid will be delivered within the next six months through two checkpoints on the border with Turkey (Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa).

"We note with satisfaction that this marks the beginning of the process aimed at phasing out the mechanism, which violates Syria’s sovereignty and is out of touch with the real situation in the country," the ministry stressed.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the decision to introduce the mechanism for cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria in 2014 was a temporary and emergency measure. "We are guided by the premise that after UN Security Council Resolution 2504 expires on July 10, 2020, humanitarian assistance to Syrians should be provided in coordination with Damascus, the way it is envisaged by international humanitarian law," it stressed.

The Foreign Ministry explained that the Jordanian checkpoint at Ramtha and the Iraqi checkpoint at al-Yaarubiya were actually no longer used, hence, the decision to decrease their number from four to two. "At the same time, there is every opportunity to deliver aid to the northeastern and southern regions, including those not controlled by Damascus, like, for example, the Rukban refugee camp in Syria," it went on to say. "We hope that, within the next six months, specialized UN agencies will study, in coordination with the Syrian government, and tackle the issue of alternative routes for delivering humanitarian cargo to all needy Syrians throughout the country without any discrimination."


Compliance with international principles


The ministry highlighted the need to abide by the principles of providing humanitarian aid enshrined in UN resolutions, which state that assistance should be provided at the request of and with consent from a recipient country, while respecting its sovereignty, territorial integrity and national cohesion.

It added that, although the situation on the ground in Syria had improved substantially since 2014, when the UN Security Council passed a cross-border aid resolution, Damascus’ efforts to rebuild the country "are facing vigorous opposition from Western countries, which imposed unilateral economic sanctions on Syria, are implementing humanitarian projects only in those regions, which are not controlled by Damascus, artificially prolonging refugees’ stay abroad, putting forward political preconditions for unlocking funds for the needs of post-conflict reconstruction, trying to provoke a fuel crisis, blatantly plundering Syria’s natural resources."

"Western donors openly boast that they do not allocate a cent for restoring basic infrastructure (water and electricity supply facilities, roads), housing construction and mine clearance. Imports of construction materials, medicines and medical equipment, child nutrition and textbooks, other items of crucial significance for inhabitants of the country that has survived the armed conflict are banned because of sanctions," the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.


Resolution 2504


On January 10, the UN Security Council passed a resolution extending cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria for six months, but reducing the number of checkpoints, through which it will delivered, from four to two. Eleven countries voted for the document. Russia, the UK, China and the US abstained.