The United Nations Security Council voted to adopt a resolution Friday that drastically cut the delivery of cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria in a diplomatic victory for Russia.
The resolution curtailed the number of crossing points for aid deliveries from four to two and cut the year-long mandate for cross-border deliveries to six months. The changes came after Russia, the top ally of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, threatened to veto the resolution altogether before the midnight deadline to renew the aid deliveries.
Other permanent members of the Security Council had sought to add a fifth crossing point and extend the mandate for another year, but were forced to back down in the face of Russia’s veto threat.
The resolution passed by a 11-0 margin, with the U.S., China and the U.K. all abstaining from the vote. The vote was the result of months of contentious negotiations over the U.N.’s mandate for cross-border aid deliveries to Syria.
U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft blasted the resolution as “watered down” and a “body blow” to the Council’s credibility, according to the U.N.’s news agency.
Germany’s U.N. ambassador added that the decision had come “at a heavy price” for nearly 1.1 million Syrians in the northeastern part of the country who would “wake in the morning up not knowing if they would be able to get the medical aid they needed.”
Russia’s delegation to the Security Council has argued that cross-border aid to Syria was intended to be a temporary solution and that the situation has changed, maintaining that two other crossing points from Jordan and Iraq are no longer needed.
The U.N. estimates that it is supporting 4 million Syrians through cross-border aid deliveries and that 40 percent of all medical, surgical and health supplies to the northeast, including water and sanitation supplies, are delivered through the Al Yarubiyah crossing point in Iraq.
“Without the cross-border operation, we would see an immediate end of aid supporting millions of civilians,” Mark Lowcock, under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said last year.