U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinkenhas declaring world powers should be ashamed of their inaction and called on the U.N. Security Council to reopen the Syrian border crossing, which was blocked by Russia.
On Monday, leading over a virtual session of the Security Council on Syria, the mild-mannered senior U.S. diplomat spoke with clear passion, expressing his outrage at Syrians' continuing suffering ten years after the start of the war.
How is it possible that we do not have the common humanity in our hearts to take a truly meaningful step? Said Blinken, who raised her two children on the subject of the crisis.
He implored, Look into your hearts. We have to find a way to do something to help people. This is our responsibility. And shame on us if we don't.
United Nations relief supplies in Syria, where most of the population depend on aid, from July 2020, can only enter one crossing point - Bab al-Hawa at the Turkish border.
Russia, which uses its veto to form an alliance with President Bashar al-Assad, opposes the success of other parties on the grounds that it violates the sovereignty of the government in Damascus.
At Russia's insistence, the Security Council voted in January 2020 to reduce four crossings for humanitarian aid to Syria to just two between Turkey and the rebel-controlled northwest. And in July, again under threat of a Russian veto, the council reduced to a single border crossing with Turkey.
Blinken urged the reopening of Turkey's second border crossing, which served to provide aid to around four million Syrians, and the Iraq crossing, which brought aid to 1.3 million in the northeast.
He said, pointing to a Russian attack last week near the Bab crossing Al-Hawa that cut off all aid deliveries to Syria, sovereignty was never meant to guarantee the right of any authority to deprive people, undernourish them of life-saving medicines, hospitals bomb or commit any human rights abuses against civilians.
The Syrian and Russian governments have propelled many air and rocket strikes against rebel-held areas in northwestern Syria near Turkey in recent weeks.
On March 21, Russian planes hit a cement plant, and gas plant, and several cities near the Turkish border. According to witnesses and rebel sources who spoke to Reuters news agency, Syrian army artillery killed seven civilians and injured 14 medics in an attack on a hospital in the area.
In Syria near the Iraqi border, the airstrikes demolished buildings, which U.S. administrators say referred to an Iraqi militia group connected to rocket strikes against the U.S.
A closeup look of buildings demolished at an Iraqi-Syrian border post after the February 26, 2021, U.S. invasion. [Maxar via Reuters]
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin, in his own remarks on Monday's videoconference, sharply criticized cross-border aid deliveries.
He said He accused humanitarian groups of segregating against Damascus-controlled areas and refusing to provide financial assistance for the repatriation of refugees and the return of refugees to secure cross-border operations, violate the norms of international humanitarian law.
Vershinin said., With one goal in mind, they are doing so to undermine Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity for political reasons because they do not like the government of this country alone.
He also blamed the "dramatic negative impact" of unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union for the "economic suffocation" of Syria, noting that 90% of Syrians live below the poverty line, 60 % suffer from hunger, and 2 million children do not. Get an education.
The Security Council meeting came as the international aid community braced for large deficits at a donor conference that kicked off…
in Brussels on Monday, co-hosted by the U.N. and the European Union. Russian Vershinin criticized them for not having invited the Syrian government.
The issue of border crossings is expected to return to a critical point in July when the Security Council renews the remaining crossing point.
"The Security Council faces so many complicated challenges. It is not one of them. In Syria, the lives of people depend on getting instant relief. We have to do everything in our power to create the means for this help to reach them - to open ways, not to close them," said Blinken.
He warned that the U.N. must assist Syrian doctors and health workers in helping Syria fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Blinken said It would only get worse, Already health workers, doctors, nurses in Syria are dying and falling at frightening speeds from COVID-19.