Resolution on humanitarian access to Syria renewed

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‘I am very pleased that the UN will be able to continue to deliver water, food, medicines and other humanitarian supplies from Türkiye into northwestern Syria. Some 4.1 million people in this area are dependent on the assistance provided under the UN’s cross-border humanitarian operation,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt at the Turkish-Syrian border. Credit: Guri Solberg, MFA
Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt at the Turkish-Syrian border - together with the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs. Credit: Guri Solberg, MFA

After difficult negotiations led by Norway and Ireland, the UN Security Council today adopted Resolution 2642 extending the mandate for cross-border aid delivery to Syria for a further six months. The resolution gives the UN a mandate to continue to lead the work of coordinating the delivery of humanitarian assistance across the border from Türkiye to millions of people in need in northwestern Syria. 

“We would have much preferred to extend the mandate of this operation for twelve months, and deeply regret that Russia vetoed that draft. Humanitarian organisations require much greater certainty to plan and prepare their programmes, benefitting those in greatest need. And it should be obvious that the humanitarian needs will not cease within the next six months’, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Security Council has become more divided and polarised. Last Friday Russia vetoed a Norwegian-Irish draft extending the mandate for twelve months. Norway and Ireland have since worked intensively to find a compromise, and succeeded today, one day after the previous mandate expired Sunday July 10. Resolution 2462 was adopted with 12 votes in favour, and three abstentions.

As co-penholders on the Syrian humanitarian file, Norway and Ireland have a special responsibility in the Security Council for following up the humanitarian situation in Syria. This includes leading the negotiations on extending the mandate for cross-border humanitarian access to Syria. Norway and Ireland have been in close contact with the other Council members, key regional stakeholders, the UN and humanitarian organisations in the period leading up to today’s Security Council meeting.

Today’s adoption secures that deliveries of humanitarian assistance from Türkiye to northwestern Syria will continue till January 10, 2023 – with the intention of a further extension of an additional six months. The additional extension will require a separate Security Council Resolution  in January.

Visited border area

On 15 June, the Norwegian and Irish Foreign Ministers visited the UN’s humanitarian operation in Hatay on the Turkish side of the border with Syria. On average, 800 lorries carrying humanitarian supplies cross into northwestern Syria via the Cilvegözü/Bab-al-Hawa border crossing every month.  

‘It is heart-rending to hear about the dire humanitarian situation and the uncertainty people in northwestern Syria are living with. The children have no access to schooling and are undernourished. The work being done by the UN and humanitarian organisations is crucial and is saving lives,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.

Since the war began in 2011, Norway has been a major donor to the UN and other humanitarian organisations working to alleviate the situation for those affected by the crisis in Syria. In addition to promoting humanitarian aid and access, Norway also supports the work being done by UN Special Envoy and the efforts to find a political solution to the Syria conflict.

‘The lack of a political solution to the crisis in Syria is the key reason why humanitarian needs are continuing to rise. This difficult humanitarian situation provides a potential breeding ground for extremism and recruitment to terrorism,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

In conflict situations, all civilians are entitled to humanitarian assistance and protection. Norway considers it particularly important to prevent the politicisation of humanitarian aid. There are currently very few humanitarian aid deliveries from government-controlled areas to northwestern Syria, where 2.7 million internally displaced people are living.

‘It is the responsibility of the international community to ensure that humanitarian aid also reaches people in areas outside government control. The security situation in this area is very unstable. It is essential that the UN and other humanitarian organisations are able to deliver assistance to people who are in need as a result of the conflict,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

It is also important that the resolution that the UN Security Council agreed on today encourages more early recovery assistance also to other parts of Syria, based on needs, said Huitfeldt.

  • Of the total of 4.4 million people in northwestern Syria, some 4.1 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. This is 700 000 more people than in 2021.
  • 80 % of those receiving assistance through the cross-border humanitarian operation are women and children
  • 1/3 of all children under the age of five are undernourished.
  • On average, 800 lorries carrying humanitarian supplies cross the border from Türkiye every month.

The humanitarian situation in Syria 

  • 6 million Syrians out of a total population of 17.5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance
  • 7 million people are internally displaced
  • 7 million people have fled from Syria to neighbouring countries
  • 90 % of the population is living below the UN poverty line.

Read more about the Foreign Minister’s visit to the Turkish-Syrian border here.

Foreign minister visits UN cross-border humanitarian operation from Turkey into northwestern Syria -