Human Rights

Syrians alarmed at Russia push to limit cross-border aid

By AFP

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A displaced Syrian girl sells liquorice juice known as Jallab on the side of the road at an Idlib province camp near the Bab al-Hawa crossing on April 26th, during Ramadan, to help their injured father with living expenses. [Aaref Watad/AFP]

Displaced Syrians relying on humanitarian assistance voiced alarm on Thursday (July 9th) after regime ally Russia tried to reduce cross-border aid to millions in the north-west of the country.

The Russian motion at the UN Security Council was voted down, but a council resolution authorising aid deliveries through the Turkish border expires Friday.

In an Idlib province displacement camp, father-of-four Abu Salem said living without aid was unthinkable for many who had lost their homes in the war.

"Why would they cut it off?" said Salem, who lives in a tent near the town of Maaret Misrin. "There are people in need. They have left their homes and everything in the world to come and live in a plastic tent without even a fan."

An estimated 2.8 million people depend on aid in north-west Syria, the UN says.

The aid has so far come through two crossing points on the Turkish border: Bab al-Salam, which leads to the Aleppo region, and Bab al-Hawa, which serves the Idlib region.

Russia and China on Tuesday vetoed a one-year extension of the deliveries.

Moscow instead sought to abolish the first crossing and put a time limit of six months on the second, but that proposal was voted down on Wednesday.

Ibrahim Husrum, the father of two young boys, said he was not surprised by Russia's latest veto after years of Russian warplanes backing the regime.

"The Russians displaced us from our homes, bombarded us, and killed us," he said. "Now they have moved on to the aid we receive."

Amnesty International's Sherine Tadros said it was "impossible to overstate the importance of ensuring the crossing points, delivering vital aid, stay open".

"For millions of Syrians, it is the difference between having food to eat and starving," she said.

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