Idlib, Syria The decision, taken thousands of miles away, is expected to have an immediate impact on the people of northwest Syria, as the UN Security Council has failed to pass a resolution that would provide vital cross-border aid in opposition-held territory.
Russia on Tuesday exercised its veto power in the council to block a nine-month renewal of a major United Nations operation providing aid to northwest Syria from Turkey.
Instead, Russia, a key ally of the Syrian government, has pushed for the current pattern of renewals to continue for six months, with the United Nations, aid organizations and several members of the Security Council calling for an extension of the mechanism by one month. year. .
Russia did not expel us from our land only through the military operation that it carried out alongside the United States [Syrian President Bashar] Muhammad Khalif, 45, said that the Assad regime and Iranian militias attacked our region five years ago, but today he continues his atrocities through his authority in the Security Council to prevent the decision to allow humanitarian aid to enter our region. Father of seven children.
Russia’s intervention in the Syrian war in 2015 turned the tide of the conflict, forcing opposition forces back into areas now under their control and securing Assad’s position.
Khalif himself was displaced by the war. He is originally from the Sinjar region, east of Idlib, and currently lives in the Hawija camp, in the north of the province.
Displaced people living in camps, like Khalif, are among the hardest hit if humanitarian access is suspended.
“The Russian veto is part of the approach adopted by the Syrian regime, with the help of Russia, to starve and suppress the Syrian people since the start of the protests in 2011,” Khalif said.
The mechanism established by the United Nations in 2014 aims to provide humanitarian aid to people living in opposition-held areas in northwest Syria without the consent of the Syrian government.
However, the Syrian government opposes the mechanism and considers it a violation of its sovereignty.
Initially, the mechanism included four border crossings to deliver aid. But after years of pressure, particularly from Moscow, only the Bab al-Hawa crossing remains operational.
In addition, authorization for cross-border aid has been reduced to six months, renewable, which complicates planning for humanitarian activities.
Aisha Eid, a 54-year-old mother of two, said: “After I lost my husband five years ago in Russian airstrikes, Russia is now vetoing us, trying to starve us to death.
Eid was displaced from the town of Al-Tah in the southern countryside of Idlib four years ago, and now lives in a camp north of Idlib.
Since being evicted from her home, Eid and her children have been working on farms, receiving a daily wage of no more than $4.
“The food basket we received was barely sufficient for 10 days, but thanks to our work, we were able to support ourselves. However, now that aid entry has been suspended, I don’t know what we will do to survive the hunger.
We are facing a major catastrophe because of the Russian veto. I know dozens of families who could starve if aid access continues. »
Bab al-Hawa crossing is a vital lifeline in providing aid to more than four million people, almost half of whom are displaced and live in opposition-controlled areas in and around Idlib.
According to the United Nations, the population is in dire need of humanitarian aid to sustain itself after years of conflict, economic collapse, the spread of disease and growing poverty, exacerbated by devastating earthquakes that killed thousands in Syria and Turkey in February.
The mechanism, which expired on Monday, has allowed aid to reach 2.7 million people each month.
Bab al-Hawa is the main transit point through which the vast majority of UN aid reaches northwest Syria. The consequences of closing this lifeline are catastrophic for the more than four million people who depend on it. “This seriously harms their rights to food, water, housing, health care, and education,” said Heba Zayadin, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Ziadin told Al-Jazeera that the earthquakes that pushed the Syrians in northwestern Syria to greater despair showed the importance of the Bab al-Hawa crossing in bringing relief and rescue efforts, and the extent of the inadequacy of the UN Security Council resolution in addressing the crisis. . emergency.
“The Russian veto is a cruel act that proves that the politicized Security Council should not be responsible for taking humanitarian decisions that affect the lives of millions of innocent people,” Zayadin said.
During the same session of the Security Council, Russia submitted its own draft resolution, which was supported only by Russia and China, with 10 abstentions and three against (the United States, Great Britain and France).
Consequently, the Russian draft resolution was not adopted because it did not receive the necessary nine votes.
Russia is seeking a political price in return for its ratification of the Syrian file, which includes pressure to accelerate early recovery projects in areas under the control of the Syrian regime, and pressure on all aid to enter it through lines controlled by the Syrian regime. In order to boost support, Abbas Sharifa, a political researcher on Syrian affairs, said the regime is using this aid to deal with the escalating economic crisis it is facing.
Sharifa told Al-Jazeera that the Russian veto was accompanied by many political developments that provoked Russia.
These include Turkey’s acceptance of Sweden’s membership in NATO, the handover of members of the Azov Battalion to Ukraine, Turkey’s request for Ukraine’s accession to NATO, and the reaffirmation that Crimea is Ukrainian territory.
“In addition, there has been an increase in security coordination between Turkey and the United States regarding the security situation in Syria,” he added.