UN Security Council to vote on improved Syria aid access

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council is set to adopt a resolution Monday authorising humanitarian convoys to serve millions of Syrian civilians by traveling from neighboring Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.
After weeks of negotiations, Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg drafted the text for a vote. Damascus’s ally Russia, which has already used its veto on four Syria-related resolutions since the conflict began in March 2011, has no plans to do so this time. “We are close to a very good agreement,” said Rwandan envoy Eugene-Richard Gasana, who holds the council’s rotating presidency. Ahead of final negotiations, Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin had also expressed optimism, saying there were only two items that were still “unacceptable” for Russia. The shipments will travel through four different border crossings - two in Turkey (Bab a-Salam and Bab al-Hawa), one in Iraq (Al-Yarubiyah) and another in Jordan (Al-Ramtha).
The United Nations accuses the Syrian regime of imposing bureaucratic and arbitrary obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid. Because of the restrictions and ongoing insecurity, 10.8 million Syrians need help, of which 4.7 million live in hard-to-reach areas trapped by the fighting or under siege by government troops or rebels. The proposed resolution sets a “monitoring mechanism” under UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s authority to ensure that the “humanitarian nature of these relief consignments.” The UN estimates that the system would help provide food and medicine to between 1.3 and 1.9 million more civilians, most in zones held by armed rebel groups. “The United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners are authorized to use routes across conflict lines and the border crossings... in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance, including medical and surgical supplies, reaches people in need throughout Syria through the most direct routes,” the draft resolution said.

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