United States Mission to the United Nations
Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
For Immediate Release
July 12, 2022
Statement by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on the Syria Cross-Border Resolution
Today, the United States abstained on a United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria cross-border humanitarian aid. The reason is simple: this was a mandate that was held hostage by the Russian Federation.
The humanitarian needs in Syria are greater than at any point since the start of the conflict. But instead of providing more access to provide Syrians with the food, water, medicine, and humanitarian supplies they desperately need, Russia wielded its veto to stop us from doing what the Secretary-General, UN agencies, and so many others described as the bare minimum: renewing the sole remaining UN-authorized border crossing for a straightforward 12-month extension.
Our approach, unlike Russia’s, is driven by humanitarian needs. When I spoke to UN experts and NGOs over the weekend, they told us that a temporary extension is, of course, better than nothing. So we did not block this resolution, even though it falls far short of the Security Council’s duty to the Syrian people.
The resolution adopted by the Council today will, at least, enable UN trucks to again pass through the Bab al-Hawa crossing and ensure that lifesaving aid does not cease completely. The UN dispatched some 800 trucks of cross-border aid to northwest Syria every month in 2021, crossing from Turkey to Idlib and reaching 2.4 million people monthly.
And that aid is needed desperately. 4.1 million people are in need in northwest Syria, up from 3.4 million last year. The global food crisis, which has been exacerbated by Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, has pushed far too many Syrian families to the brink.
But we cannot let this be the end. The first of the two six-month extensions that the Security Council decided upon today will bring us only to January, which will be the very moment when humanitarian needs peak. That is the weakness of today’s resolution – it requires another action from the Council to confirm what should be automatic.
In the absence of a new resolution, Syrians could be left without blankets or fuel to heat their homes in the dead of winter. NGOs will lack the time they told me they needed to organize a reliable supply of humanitarian aid.
Children will freeze. People will starve. Lives hang in the balance.
The United States will continue to work with our humanitarian partners to expand access inside Syria. We will look at all options to stave off the worst-case scenarios about which we have warned. We will take a hard look at our aid posture in Syria and do everything in our power to help those in need.
We will not abandon the Syrian people during their time of need.