London, UK, July 8, 2020 — David Miliband, President and CEO of International Rescue Committee, Statement on Veto of UN Resolution Authorising Cross-Border Aid into Syria:
"Since 2014, the UN Security Council has agreed to authorise cross-border aid to reach millions of vulnerable Syrians caught in conflict through two Turkish border crossings. In the last several months, in light of ongoing violence and the devastating impact of COVID-19, those two same crossings - Bab al-Hawa and Bab al-Salam - have operated at maximum capacity, supplying almost 3 million civilians with food, water, and critical health supplies, including essential vaccines.
"It defies reason to support cutting this life-saving aid during a global pandemic - yet that is exactly what has occurred today. Russia and China have put Syrian lives on the line, prioritised politics over humanitarian principles, and left the Security Council not only paralysed but unable to fulfill its core mandate. The use of the veto has put millions of Syrian men, women and children at risk - even as COVID cases are increasing across a country whose health system has been decimated by a decade of war.
The Council must urgently authorise the existing two crossings into Turkey - and additionally authorise access through a crossing point in Iraq into Northeast Syria. COVID-19 shows no signs of abating globally- and what is needed now is more humanitarian access, not less. Blocking access to food, healthcare supplies, vaccines, and ventilators is unacceptable anytime but in the year of COVID19 it is even more reprehensible. The Council has until July 10th, the expiry of the cross-border mandate, to ensure that even more Syrian lives are not lost in the face of grave international failings.
The unanimous vote of the ten elected nations on the Security Council in favor of the border crossings, and in defiance of the Russian/Chinese veto, is striking and welcome. These are countries elected by their fellow members of the UN General Assembly. Their united stand in favor of humanitarian aid reaching the Syrian people through the most direct route puts principle and pragmatism together. China and Russia now have to answer to the elected nations as well as the Syrian people for their vetos.”
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.