Aid agencies warn against closing vital Syria-Turkey crossing

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Photo released by Turkish Defense Ministry shows Turkish army launches a military operation into northern Syria on the Turkey-Syria border, on Oct. 9, 2019. Turkish Armed Forces on late Wednesday began a land operation into northern Syria against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). (Xinhua)
Photo released by Turkish Defense Ministry shows Turkish army launches a military operation into northern Syria on the Turkey-Syria border, on Oct. 9, 2019. Turkish Armed Forces on late Wednesday began a land operation into northern Syria against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). (Xinhua)

Members of more than 50 Syrian and international aid organizations on Friday formed a human chain near a border crossing with Turkey and warned against the closure of the only facility allowing the safe delivery of relief assistance to north-western Syria.

The organizations are calling for an extension to the United Nations regulation that allows relief supplies to be brought via the Bab al-Hawa border crossing to north-western Syria, the last rebel stronghold.

A related UN resolution expires on July 10.

Russia, which holds a veto at the UN Security Council, is a major ally of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and has signalled that it would prefer the last border crossing for aid deliveries to close.

Moscow says it wants to handle aid shipments via the capital Damascus, which is controlled by al-Assad’s government.

“Closing this border will further complicate the humanitarian situation in the region and increase the spread of diseases, coronavirus as well as starvation,” Munir Mustapha, an official at the non-governmental rescue group White Helemts, told dpa.

According to one organizer, some 2,500 humanitarian aid workers had lined a main highway leading to the Bab al-Hawa crossing a part of the protest.

“Crossings are the artery of life,” read one placard.

“Human rights are above political considerations,” another placard read.

UN aid agencies have warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe if the crossing is closed.

Some 1,000 trucks use the Bab al-Hawa crossing every month to deliver aid including Covid-19 vaccines to the area.

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