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

‘Humanitarian needs in Syria are increasing with each passing month. Some four million Syrians living on the other side of this border are completely dependent on the UN being able to continue to lead the work of delivering life-saving humanitarian assistance, such as food, water and medicines, into northwestern Syria,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt and the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney  were impressed by the humanitarian efforts on the Turkish- Syrian border. Credit: Guri Solberg, MFA
Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt and the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney were impressed by the humanitarian efforts on the Turkish- Syrian border. Credit: Guri Solberg, MFA

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. The mandate for the UN cross-border humanitarian operation from Turkey into northwestern Syria must be extended before 10 July. Norway and Ireland are working to ensure that the UN cross-border aid operation into northwestern Syria can continue, as well as to maintain the humanitarian support channelled via government-controlled areas to other parts of Syria. This is the reason for the visit by Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney to the Turkish side of the Cilvegözü/Bab-al-Hawa border crossing.

‘Every month, 800 lorries transport humanitarian supplies across this border. I greatly appreciate the vital efforts being carried out by the UN and humanitarian organisations. This work is saving lives,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

More than 11 years of war and conflict have created enormous humanitarian needs in Syria. The UN estimates that out of a population of 22 million, 14 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Over 4 million of these live in rebel-controlled areas in northwestern Syria. In addition to the ongoing conflict, the Syrian people have also been hit hard by economic crisis, water shortages, and rising prices for food and fuel.

Since the war began in 2012, Norway has provided NOK 16.5 billion in support. This year, Norway will provide NOK 1.5 billion. Norway also supports the work being done by UN Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen to find an inclusive political solution in Syria.

‘A political solution is the only way to bring an end to the suffering of the Syrian people,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.