Aid groups warn of serious consequences if Syrian mandate ends

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BEIRUT (TUSEN) – Unless the UN Security Council extends its approval for aid deliveries to rebel-held areas of northwestern Syria next month, food supplies will run out of September in the region which is home to some 4 million people, aid agencies warned on Thursday. .

Concerns have grown in recent months about the worsening situation in Syria’s Idlib province as Russia could force international aid for the northwest to be channeled through parts of Syria under Syrian control. his ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Currently, aid enters the Idlib enclave directly from Turkey via a single border crossing, Bab al-Hawa. The UN mandate allowing deliveries through Bab al-Hawa ends on July 9 and Russia has hinted it will veto a Security Council resolution renewing the mandate.

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The term’s expiration this year comes as tension mounts between Russia and the West following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine four months ago.

“This is a time when it is absolutely vital that the Syrian people are not forced to pay the price for geopolitical divisions,” David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee, said in an online briefing on Thursday.

A Russian veto would effectively give Assad control over the flow of aid to the opposition enclave; if that happens, the United States and the European Union have warned that they will stop funding.

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Miliband said cross-border aid to northwest Syria supports 1.4 million people every month and “remains an urgent precondition in the Syrian conflict”.

Tanya Evans, the committee’s national director for Syria, said the global food crisis “is particularly devastating” in Syria, particularly in Idlib, which is home to many people internally displaced by the 11-year war. The conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced half of the country’s 23 million people before the war.

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“If this mechanism is not renewed in July, it is expected that food supplies will be exhausted by September,” she warned. Evans said non-governmental organizations estimate they have the capacity to expand and reach around 300,000 people with food aid, meaning more than a million will not have access to food in september.

Sherine Ibrahim, director of CARE in Turkey, said that if the resolution is not renewed, around 80% of the protection services provided by the United Nations will “bring to a screeching halt”. She warned that those most affected will be women and children.

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