On July 4, representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that the operation to deliver 85 tonnes of medicines and medical supplies from Damascus to Al Hasakah was completed successfully. Previously this shipment was transported from Erbil to Damascus aboard a Russian air carrier. The WHO representatives note that this is the largest shipment of medical aid from the interior of Syria to the Trans-Euphrates region across contact lines and is especially important for helping the healthcare system counter the spread of the coronavirus infection.
Moscow is satisfied with this operation, which proves that aid can and must be delivered inside the country in coordination with the Syrian government and in accordance with the norms of the international humanitarian law and guiding principles of humanitarian cooperation envisaged in UN General Assembly Resolution 46/182.
Initially it was planned to ship the medical supplies to northeast Syria via the Al-Yaarubia border crossing with Iraq. When this crossing was closed on January 10, 2020 in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2504, a lot of criticism was voiced that it was allegedly impossible to provide aid to the districts on the eastern bank of the Euphrates without cross-border deliveries. However, this operation, as well as many other land and air humanitarian convoys that had arrived in Syria prove the opposite.
In this context, it is regrettable that we can see no progress in sending a joint convoy of the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent Society to Idlib (Al Atarib and Darat Izza) across contact lines. This operation was scheduled for April 20, 2020. The Syrian government issued all the necessary permissions, but it is still unclear why those in need have not received the aid. Representatives of Western countries and specialised humanitarian agencies continue to raise alarm at the UN Security Council talking about the devastation in Idlib and asking for an immediate response, but only by cross-border shipments from Turkey. Such uncompromising insistence on using the cross-border mechanism, despite the suffering of the local people, cannot but cause regret.
In this context, we must note once again that the cross-border mechanism was created back in 2014 as a temporary and emergency measure that must not affect the deliveries of humanitarian aid in coordination with Damascus or be used to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.