Syria NGOs plead for new aid resolution at UN

A boy carries humanitarian aid packages in the al-Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 January 2020

Syria NGOs plead for new aid resolution at UN

  • The UN Security Council was set to vote later on Friday on extending cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria, but Russia has been pushing for a reduction in aid that has set up a showdown with the West
  • The authorization for the aid, which enters the country without the formal permission of the regime in Damascus, has been in place since 2014 and is set to expire on Friday

ISTANBUL: NGOs working in Syria warned Friday of a humanitarian disaster unless Russia and the West can overcome their differences at the United Nations and renew a resolution allowing aid deliveries.
The UN Security Council was set to vote later on Friday on extending cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria, but Russia has been pushing for a reduction in aid that has set up a showdown with the West, according to diplomats.
“Unless a miracle happens today the Syrian people will be left without humanitarian aid,” said Ghasan Hitto, president of the Syrian Forum at a press conference in Istanbul that gathered 19 NGOs working in Syria.
“This crossborder resolution is extremely important, this is how aid flows from various countries, from Jordan, from Lebanon, from Turkey into Syria,” he added.
The authorization for the aid, which enters the country without the formal permission of the regime in Damascus, has been in place since 2014 and is set to expire on Friday.
For the NGOs, the issue has become critical as Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, intensify attacks on the last rebel stronghold of Idlib.
Zaher Sahlul, director of MedGlobal, said 360,000 people had been displaced in Idlib in the last three weeks alone, and one million since April.
“The situation is beyond catastrophic,” he said.
“We need the cross-border resolution today,” added Zahed Al-Masri, of Physicians Across Continents.
“If the negotiations do not succeed millions will die.”
Four million Syrians directly benefit from the cross-border aid shipments.
A vote on December 20 saw the Security Council’s 15 members split as Russia and China vetoed a European proposal to extend the aid entering through three spots in Turkey and Iraq for a year.
A competing Russian resolution included only two entry points at the Turkish border and would have extended the authorization for only six months, but it failed to get the minimum nine votes.


Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

Updated 29 October 2020

Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

  • A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”

BEIRUT: Lebanese negotiators laid out their claim to maritime territory on Wednesday as they began a second round of talks with Israel over their disputed sea border.
The contested zone in the Mediterranean is an estimated 860 square kilometers known as Block 9, which is rich in oil and gas. Future negotiations will also tackle the countries’ land border.
Wednesday’s meeting took place at the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) amid tight security. An assistant of the UN special coordinator for Lebanon chaired the session, and the US Ambassador to Algeria, John Desrocher, was the mediator.
A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”
The Lebanese delegation produced maps and documents to support their claim to the disputed waters.
In indirect talks between Lebanon and Israel in 2012, US diplomat Frederick Hoff proposed “a middle line for the maritime borders, whereby Lebanon would get 58 percent of the disputed area and Israel would be given the remaining 42 percent, which translates to 500 square kilometers for Lebanon and 300 square kilometers for Israel.”
On the eve of Wednesday’s meeting, Lebanese and Israeli officials met to discuss a framework to resolve the conflict through the implementation of UN Resolution 1701.
UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col praised the “constructive role that both parties played in calming tensions along the Blue Line” and stressed the necessity of “taking proactive measures and making a change in the prevailing dynamics regarding tension and escalation.”