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‘Life and Death’: Will the UN’s final aid to Syria be near? | Food Issues

Beirut, Lebanon – The critical vote of the United Nations Security Council in July could end the work to help the nearly 4.4 million Syrian migrants living in the occupied territories of the northwest.

The Bab al-Hawa border on the Turkey-Syria border is the last resort where aid can be sent directly to the needy areas not across the Assad regime in Damascus. About 1,000 relief vehicles are assisted every month.

“We rely on all the services,” Dr Hamzeh Hassan of Bab al-Hawa Hospital, the largest hospital in the area, told Al Jazeera. “We need medical supplies and surgical equipment but once we get them, they are provided through Bab al-Hawa.”

Four crossings across the war-torn Syria were instituted by the Security Council in July 2014 but with a reversal of the law, the number was reduced by Assad allies Russia and China who used their veto powers to prevent three crossings: al-Ramtha near the border with Jordan, al-Yaroubia northeast between Iraq and the Kurdish al-Hasakeh province, as well as the crossing of Bab al-Salam between Turkey and northern Syria.

“We are now in the second phase of COVID and cases are growing rapidly,” said Dr Hassan, who is looking for medical treatment to save more patients, he said. “Some weapons and medicines must arrive soon – but if the border is closed, we will face a humanitarian catastrophe.”

The release of the Idlib vaccine has also been reduced. “More than 17,000 people are vaccinated, especially front-line workers,” said Dr Fadi Hakim of the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation (SAMS) in Al Jazeera. “When we get to the peak, God forbids us, we can’t stand it.”

During the past 10 years, hundreds of Assyrians have been killed and millions have been displaced. Idlib is today Syria’s last stronghold, under control of former al-Qaeda allies of Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Turkish rebel groups.

Syrian and Russian forces have hit Idlib in recent years to take over the region, and bomb hospitals, schools, markets, and homes, causing economic hardship. The COVID-19 epidemic has also exacerbated existing problems.

‘Evil to Evil’

The United States is pushing for Bab al-Hawa to remain open. In a press briefing, US Deputy UN Secretary-General Jeffrey Prescott said what would happen in shutting down Bab al-Hawa “would not be possible”.

“It’s a matter of life and death,” he said He said.

But Russia, a key supporter of the Assad regime on the front lines and around the world, is keen to end Bab al-Hawa’s work instead and provide assistance through the Damascus government.

“Since July 2020 when the law was adopted, crossings have increased dramatically,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin in March, referring to the Security Council’s final decision that restored the crossing point.

“But even so, humanitarian work in northwestern Syria is deteriorating,” he said, criticizing the HTS ban.

Moscow has repeatedly criticized the United States and Europe for being politically motivated by promoting humanitarian aid in Damascus.

“All this is being done to undermine the sovereignty and credibility of the Syrian territories for political reasons as a result of dissatisfaction with the country’s leadership,” Vershinin said.

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet in less than a week in Geneva, with little to no details. According to reports, Biden will pressure Putin to step in and provide humanitarian assistance.

But according to Senior Fellow Natasha Hall of the Center for Strategic and International Study, what would be important is Biden’s approach compared to his predecessors, who did the same by crossing the aid line, but failed to persuade Moscow to change.

“It’s about the number of managers who want to contribute to this type of negotiation,” Hall told Al Jazeera.

UN vehicles enter Syria from Turkey at the crossroads of Bab al-Hawa [File: Osman Orsal/Reuters]

Sending ‘dangers’

Russia will continue to push for more radical change and donations through Damascus – often referred to as a queue – which has not happened in Idlib.

“To date, there has been no way to connect the UN to northwestern Syria,” a UN spokesman told Al Jazeera. “The UN continues to try and encourage, however, the conditions for establishing a group from northwestern Syria are not being met.”

But many, including Dr Hakim, are rejecting the request altogether based on what happened in the besieged areas.

“When we tried to provide trips through East Aleppo or Ghouta, at least 90 percent of the taxes were rejected,” he said, adding that his agency had to approve at least seven from security and government agencies in Damascus. “And even if you get the approval, the prices can be returned to the lighting and most items are removed from the car. It’s dangerous. ”

UN member states and allies often struggle to reach areas that are “hard to reach” or “difficult to reach”, especially blaming government repatriation centers. And even the help that will eventually come is futile.

“Sometimes you see a package … with fitted clothes and shoe covers but which are considered ‘complete’,” explained Hall. “And all the delays and all the disruptions that the Damascus government has done have resulted in a lot of drugs being wasted, because they expire by the time they get to the hospitals.”

Chronic disease

But even in the northeast, where the Syrian government and its allies have not participated in the war, non-governmental organizations have criticized the lack of aid across the border after closing al-Yaroubia borders.

“Since the border was closed at the UN, very few have been sent to hospitals through other means,” 42 NGOs He said in his remarks on Friday, I add that hospitals do not have the necessary medicines and equipment to treat COVID-19.

“At the al-Hol camp, non-governmental organizations have stated that about 30% of patients with incurable diseases will not be able to access treatment through the drugs available at the camp.”

Many wars have broken out in Syria, but the COVID-19 epidemic has exacerbated problems that are already difficult. In Idlib, the prospect of shutting down the only way to provide help is threatening Dr Hassan.

“Believe me, if this [border crossing] it’s over, we’ll see a lot of problems, ”he said, his voice trembling. “Medical facilities can continue for about half a year, but I don’t think there will be enough food for more than a month if the demise is over.”

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