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UN Security Council extends Syria cross-border aid

By MINLU ZHANG in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-07-10 08:42

An internally displaced Syrian girl with an amputated leg checks her phone at the Bab Al-Salam refugee camp, near the Syrian-Turkish border, northern Aleppo province, Syria Jan 19, 2017. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

The United Nations Security Council on Friday adopted a draft resolution on the mandate renewal of cross-border mechanism in Syria.

The council adopted Resolution 2585, which will allow cross-border aid into Syria from Turkey to run for another 12 months. Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, explained China's vote.

Zhang said that China attaches great importance to the humanitarian situation in Syria and supports the international community and the UN agencies in scaling up humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people in line with the guiding principles of emergency humanitarian assistance as set out in GA Resolution 46/182, which created today's international humanitarian system.

For a long time, through bilateral and multilateral channels, China has provided various assistance to Syria in terms of food, medicine, education, public service, among others, and has played a positive role in improving the humanitarian situation on the ground, the envoy pointed out.

Zhang stressed that all humanitarian assistance in Syria should be premised on the full respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.

Cross-border humanitarian delivery mechanism is a special arrangement made under specific circumstances, and as such, it should be "subjected to timely assessment and necessary adjustment as to its efficacy and applicability in light of the situation on the ground, with a view to transitioning from cross-border to cross-line delivery," he said.

"Unilateral sanctions are the main obstacles in improving the humanitarian situation in the country," Zhang said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, High Commissioner for Human Rights and Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs have repeatedly expressed concerns on the negative humanitarian consequences brought about by unilateral sanctions, and called for lifting these sanctions. On this the international community enjoys a broad consensus, he said.

"Cross-border mechanism is a controversial matter both politically and legally, whereas the cross-line mechanism should be the dominant channel for delivering humanitarian assistance," the envoy said.

"Expression of support for cross-line assistance must not remain empty words. The council should identify what stands in the way of cross-line delivery and urge parties concerned to open up as early as possible the delivery route from Damascus to northwest of Syria," he said.

"It is of critical importance to enhance monitoring of cross-border delivery, as this will help prevent crossing points from being used in a manner that goes beyond the Council's mandate," Zhang added.

As the Security Council that has mandated the establishment of cross-border mechanism, "it naturally bears the responsibility for ensuring the transparency and impartiality of the mechanism and guaranteeing its humanitarian nature", he said.

"Thanks to the joint efforts by all parties concerned," said Zhang. In the draft resolution that the council just acted upon, elements were included with regard to enhancing cross-line delivery, strengthening the transparency of cross-border mechanism, post-war reconstruction, and COVID-19 response.

"These elements reflect the legitimate concerns of China and other Council members and are the right steps to take to properly and comprehensively resolve the Syrian humanitarian issue under the new circumstances," he said.

In view of this, China voted in favor of this draft resolution. However at the same time, "we still believe that there is much to improve in the draft, especially when it comes to calling, in clear terms, for lifting unilateral sanctions," he said.

"Now we expect council members to continue to take effective measures to eliminate the negative impact of unilateral sanctions, and to create favorable conditions for fundamentally overcoming the challenging humanitarian situation in Syria, and guaranteeing the well-being of the Syrian people," Zhang said.

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