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UN to vote on speeding aid to Syria

Sponsors of a UN resolution to authorise delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrians in desperate need of food and medicine finalised the text ahead of a vote expected on Monday.

The final draft, obtained by The Associated Press, would authorise UN agencies and aid organizations that assist them to use routes across conflict lines and four border crossings - two in Turkey, one in Iraq and one in Jordan - for 180 days in addition to those already in use to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Russia, Syria's closest ally, is not expected to block approval of the resolution, said diplomats.

UN humanitarian chief Baroness Amos told the Security Council two weeks ago that using the border crossings could reach approximately 1.3 million people who have not received aid.

The draft would also authorise the UN to monitor the loading of all humanitarian aid shipments in Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, and it would require Syrian authorities to be notified "to confirm the humanitarian nature of these relief consignments".

The draft also covers the wider Syrian conflict, now in its fourth year, saying members are "appalled at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence and the death of more than 150,000 people, including well over 10,000 children". It would also strongly condemn widespread human rights violations.

The council approved a resolution in February demanding that all sides in the Syrian conflict allow immediate access for aid, immediately lift sieges of populated areas, stop depriving civilians of food and halt attacks against civilians.

It threatened no sanctions but expressed the council's intention to take "further steps" if its demands are not met.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's reports on implementation of the resolution since then have instead described a worsening situation every month.

Baroness Amos told the council on June 26 that the number of Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance has increased from one million in 2011 to 10.8 million, jumping 1.5 million in just the last six months. That includes 4.7 million in hard-to-reach areas.

The draft resolution expresses "grave alarm at the significant and rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria".

The sponsors initially wanted the resolution to be under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which can be enforced militarily, but early on the Russians and Chinese objected.

The proposed resolution would authorise the delivery and monitoring of aid to Syria through the Turkish border crossings at Bab al-Salam and Bab-al-Hawa, the Iraqi crossing at Al Yarubiyah and the Jordanian crossing at Al-Ramtha for 180 days.


From Belfast Telegraph