More than 1,000 trucks have transported groceries, medicines and other items across the Bab al-Hawa crossing every month last year, but a resolution authorizing these operations expires on July 10.
“I urge the members of the Council to reach a consensus that cross-border operations will be allowed as an important channel of support for another year,” said Guterres via video link from Brussels.
“Failure to renew the council’s approval would have devastating consequences,” he warned.
worse than ever
A decade of war in Syria has left 13.4 million people in need of aid. The United Nations humanitarian operation there is the largest in the world. Around 10 billion US dollars are needed to support the people affected by the conflict, be it in the country or as refugees throughout the region.
The Secretary-General reported that the situation for many Syrians was worse than it had ever been since the fighting began, and that the situation in the northwest was the worst in the country. More than 70 percent of people need humanitarian aid to survive and nearly three million are displaced.
Mr Guterres said more humanitarian access was needed to reach those most in need.
“That’s why I made it clear how important it is to maintain and expand access, including in cross-border and cross-line operations,” he told the ambassadors.
“We are in dialogue with Turkey and groups that control the area and I very much hope that it will soon be possible to start cross-border operations. But we have to recognize that they can never replace cross-border aid at the current level. ”
“Simply no replacement”
While the clock is ticking, while the ambassadors deliberate, the United Nations and its partners will continue to provide assistance to the Syrians, the acting head of the UN Humanitarian Office, OCHA, told the council.
Ramesh Rajasingham pointed out that the cross-border mechanism is also “one of the most heavily vetted and monitored relief operations in the world” and that failure to expand it will have serious consequences as NGOs will not be able to meet the massive needs.
“With 90 percent of people in need needing help to survive, they would be faced with a truly disastrous situation. There is simply no substitute for cross-border operations, ”he said.
Mr Rajasingham stressed that while the United Nations and its partners are using all possible means to reach the people of northwest Syria, operations across the front lines within the country have not been possible. However, these would complement, not replace, the cross-border mechanism.
“When it comes to providing life-saving aid to people in need across Syria, all channels should be made available and kept available. Otherwise the stakes are simply too high, ”he said.
“I agree with the Secretary-General’s appeal to the Security Council to ensure that the United Nations and its humanitarian partners have every opportunity to help people in need by extending the cross-border permit for 12 months.”