EDITH M. LEDERER
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Australia, Luxembourg, and Jordan are planning to circulate a new U.N. Security Council resolution that diplomats say would authorize the delivery of humanitarian aid into Syria through four border crossings without approval from President Bashar Assad’s government.
Australia’s U.N. Ambassador Gary Quinlan told reporters after a council briefing Thursday on the humanitarian crisis that 90 percent of aid currently “goes to government-held areas,” and Syrians in opposition-controlled zones aren’t getting food and medicine.
Quinlan said the resolution, which will be circulated “very quickly,” will respond to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for council action, but he gave no details.
Diplomats familiar with the draft said it is under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which means it could be enforced militarily. It would authorize humanitarian access at two crossings from Turkey, one in Jordan and one from Iraq helping more than 2 million people who have not received aid. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the draft has not been made public.
All 15 council members voted for a resolution in February demanding that all sides in the Syrian conflict allow immediate access for aid. U.N. officials have said the resolution has failed to change the dire humanitarian situation.
Currently, all U.N. aid must go through Damascus — a practice which U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has repeatedly criticized.
The February resolution mentioned “further steps” if its demands weren’t met, but Russia, Syria’s closest ally, has long opposed any Chapter 7 resolution on Syria. Russia and China have vetoed four resolutions on Syria. Some diplomats doubt Russia would approve a new humanitarian resolution under Chapter 7, but they say it could be a bargaining chip in negotiations.
Quinlan said he wouldn’t speculate on the reaction or Russia or anyone else, adding: “People did in February, and they were wrong.”
Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang told the council that flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and human rights by all parties in Syria continue, along with the arbitrary denial of assistance to people in need.
“We once again appeal for rapid, unhindered and safe access to every Syrian in need,” she said in excerpts released by her office. “All delivery routes must be made available to us — both cross-line and cross-border.”
An assessment by eight international humanitarian groups working on Syria, obtained by The Associated Press, reported the deteriorating humanitarian situation over the past 30 days, along with an increase in the deliberate targeting of aid workers and restrictions on access by both the government and opposition.
“More than 9.5 million people could be accessed from neighboring countries, but to do so aid agencies need more help,” the assessment said. “This includes help to keep borders open, help with visa/registration for those agencies, more investment/resource in cross border operations, support with logistics etc.”
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