The U.N. Security Council has set aside its divisions over Syria and unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at getting life-saving aid to as many as two million Syrians through the most direct routes.
After weeks of intense negotiations, Russia and China joined with other council members to support the measure. Resolution 2165 is a follow up to a February resolution that also called for the immediate granting of access for aid deliveries, but which was largely ignored by the fighting factions, leading to more Syrians in need.
The difference between the two resolutions, and what diplomats hope will make a real impact, is the new resolution authorizes U.N. humanitarian agencies and their partners to use four additional border crossings into Syria, even without Damascus’s consent. Two are on the Turkish-Syrian border, one is on the Iraqi border and the third is with Jordan.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said this would increase the supply of life-saving food and medications.
“If implemented fully, this resolution will allow critical aid to reach up to two million Syrians who have been denied adequate assistance for the past year and suffered immeasurably as a result. This resolution also authorizes the U.N. to cross conflict lines between regime and opposition forces to deliver aid,” she said.
But the new border crossings could be problematic, as Islamic militant groups are a threatening presence. The crossing between Jordan and Syria was substituted into the final draft after security concerns arose around the crossing point that was originally envisioned.
The resolution also establishes a U.N. run-monitoring mechanism, for six months, that will inspect aid cargo entering Syria to confirm that it is solely humanitarian.
Luxembourg’s ambassador, Sylvie Lucas, who along with her counterparts from Jordan and Australia, authored the resolution, said the provisions were clear and legally binding.
“Resolution 2165 is an operational and specific document; it is innovative. We frankly hope it will allow for a true breakthrough on the ground. If 2165 is not complied with, and resolution 2139 continues to suffer the same fate, the Security Council has clearly affirmed that supplementary measures will be taken,” she said.
The Syrian Coalition’s Special Representative to the United Nations, Najib Ghadbian said his group and the Free Syrian Army were ready “to facilitate safe, direct access” in areas under their control.
Damascus’s envoy, Bashar Ja’afari, urged humanitarian assistance not be politicized and said he hoped border crossings would not be exploited for moving arms and terrorists into the country.
The United Nations says nearly 11 million Syrians need aid, including almost 6.5 million who are displaced inside the country and 4.5 million living in hard-to-reach areas. Nearly one quarter million more are trapped in besieged areas.