United States Mission to the United Nations
Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
For Immediate Release
June 25, 2021
Statement by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on the Draft Syria Cross-Border Resolution
The message we have consistently received from UN front line workers and NGOs is that, in order to ensure humanitarian aid reaches millions of Syrians in dire need, the Security Council must reauthorize three border crossings. Unfortunately, the draft resolution put forward today for the Security Council’s consideration falls short of meeting that need. Alleviating the dire suffering of millions of Syrians requires the Security Council to do more.
At one time, there were four border crossings providing crucial humanitarian assistance to Syrians, including refugees and internally displaced persons; now there is only one. When the other crossings were closed, Syrians suffered. As just one example, needs have risen 38 percent in northeast Syria since the closing of Al Yarubiyah, according to the UN. This deterioration in the humanitarian environment was both foreseeable and preventable.
Since the closing of Bab al-Salam, not a single cross-line convoy has succeeded in reaching Idlib. The Assad regime has blocked at least half of the UN convoys in areas they control. There are places in Syria that haven’t seen a cross-line shipment in 18 months. The COVID-19 pandemic and the UN’s dependency on cross-border access to deliver life-saving vaccines further illustrates the need for the Council to expand access.
For these reasons, I continue to call for the reauthorization of Bab al-Hawa and reinstatement of the Bab al-Salam and Al Yarubiyah crossings for humanitarian assistance. As one UN official at the Turkey-Syria border told me earlier this month, “this is the time to scale up, not scale down” our humanitarian response.
Millions of Syrians are struggling, and without urgent action, millions more will be cut off from food, clean water, medicine, and COVID-19 vaccines. The situation is devastating, and will only get worse if we don’t act. The Security Council must meet the moment with the robust humanitarian access that people of the region desperately need. Anything less would be to ignore our responsibilities to the Syrian people, the international community, and our own ideals.