The U.N. Security Council gave up voting on Thursday, as initially planned, on an extension of the authorization of cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria without the approval of Damascus, deciding to continue its negotiations on Friday, in the absence of an agreement between Russia and the West on its duration.
According to diplomats, Moscow is still insisting on an extension limited to six months, possibly renewable, while the West is demanding a year of extension for this authorization, which has been in force since 2014 and expires Sunday.
A new text produced Thursday evening, obtained by AFP, was proposed by Norway and Ireland, managers of the file in the Security Council. It provides for a six-month extension until January 10, 2023, with an extension of another six months “unless the council decides otherwise.”
The extension would also be conditional on a “substantial report” by the secretary-general, notably on the transparency of aid shipments; on progress in delivering assistance from Damascus across the front lines; and on progress made for “rapid rehabilitation projects in line with humanitarian needs.”
On Thursday evening, uncertainty remained as to whether this new proposal could suit Russia and whether a vote was possible as early as Friday. “Russia insists for only six months,” an ambassador told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The cross-border authorization, in force since 2014, allows the delivery of humanitarian aid to northwestern Syria via the Bab al-Hawa crossing point on the Syrian-Turkish border, used each month by hundreds of trucks. This international humanitarian aid is intended for more than 2.4 million people in the Idlib region held largely by jihadist groups and rebels.
For Moscow, which has a veto in the Security Council, the delivery of aid to the northwest of the country should only take place from Damascus through the front lines.