Irish INGOs call on UN Security Council to keep vital humanitarian aid border crossing open between Syria and Turkey

Concern staff distributing hygiene kits in Syria, 2019
Concern staff distributing hygiene kits in Syria, 2019. Photo: Concern Worldwide.

A group of Irish humanitarian aid organisations are collectively calling on members of the United Nations Security Council, of which Ireland is a temporary member, to approve the reauthorisation of a vital border crossing which allows aid between Turkey and conflict affected north-west Syria.

The NGOs warn that over three million people in the region will be left without critical life-saving humanitarian assistance if consensus, which enables aid to flow through the only remaining border crossing between Turkey and north-west Syria at Bab al Hawa, is not secured.  UN Security Council members have until July 10th to unanimously agree to renew the Syria Cross-Border Resolution.

The Bab al Hawa crossing allows humanitarian aid to be delivered to a region where 81 per cent of the population, half of whom are children, are in need of support.

Concern Worldwide, GOAL, Trocaire, Oxfam Ireland and World Vision are appealing to the Security Council to approve the reauthorisation of the crossing for at least another 12 months. In addition to the Bab al Hawa border crossing, they are also calling for the re-opening of the Al Yarubiyah and Bab al Salam crossings, which have been closed over the last year and a half.

In a joint statement the NGOS say: “If the last remaining border crossing is closed off after July 10th the work of the entire humanitarian community to provide timely life-saving assistance, could be in jeopardy and the consequences will be disastrous. This cannot be allowed to happen. Ireland, with Norway, has specific responsibility at the UN Security Council to convene consensus on the text of the resolution that protects cross-border aid.”

The statement also urges the Security Council to go further to expand means for the delivery of aid by urgently reinstating the Bab al Salam and Al Yarubiyah crossings in the resolution.

The renewal of the Syria Cross-Border Resolution is the only way the Bab al Hawa crossing can remain open.

The NGO group warn that a failure to do so would result in a looming humanitarian catastrophe, with food aid supplies, COVID-19 vaccines, and critical medical supplies unable to be delivered.

It said: “The number of people in need in Syria is currently at its highest ever level, growing 20% in the last year alone. The ongoing economic crisis in the region coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic has led to record levels of food insecurity and economic hardship. COVID-19 continues to spread at an alarming rate while the healthcare infrastructure, decimated by years of conflict, remains woefully inadequate to respond.”

“Ten years on in Syria, the need for humanitarian assistance has never been greater for 22 million civilians caught up in this horrific conflict. Some 80% of the population now live below the poverty line and 9.3 million people are food insecure. Access is critical to ensure that all humanitarian agencies can continue to provide life-saving assistance.”

In March the group raised their concerns about the closure of the border crossing in a joint submission to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence.

ENDS

For more information, contact Eilis Staunton, Media Relations officer with Concern at eilis.staunton@concern.net or 085 8720720.

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