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Chinese UN envoy calls for more cooperation with Damascus to offer Syrians aid

Chinese UN envoy calls for more cooperation with Damascus to offer Syrians aid

| @indiablooms | 11 Jan 2020, 11:40 am

United Nations/Xinhua: China's ambassador to the United Nations (UN) on Friday called on humanitarian organizations to step up their cooperation with the Syrian government to deliver relief after abstaining in a Security Council vote that renewed a mechanism for cross-border aid into the country.

Zhang Jun, permanent representative of China to the UN, said that China attaches great importance to the humanitarian situation in Syria, supports the international community in stepping up humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, and supports the work of humanitarian assistance in Syria by the UN.

He also noted that China has provided assistance to Syria through multilateral and bilateral channels, and is committed to improving the country's humanitarian situation.

However, explaining his abstention, he said that regarding the establishment of a Syrian cross-border humanitarian relief mechanism, China always has reservations. "China has consistently advocated that in taking any action, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country concerned and the will of its government must be respected."

He pointed out that cross-border humanitarian relief is a special method adopted under specific circumstances, and that it should be evaluated and adjusted in a timely manner in light of developments on the ground.

The Chinese envoy maintained that the Syrian government has the primary responsibility of improving the humanitarian situation in Syria, and under the current circumstances, the UN's relief arm and relevant parties should step up their cooperation with the Syrian government and prioritize providing humanitarian assistance from inside Syria.

"Cross-border humanitarian operations should strictly follow the UN Humanitarian Relief Guiding Principles and international law, and observe the principles of neutrality, impartiality and non-politicization," he added.

Since 2014, the Security Council has authorized the delivery of aid through four border crossings -- two in Turkey and the other two in Iraq and Jordan seperately.

With 11 members voting yes and the rest abstaining, the 15-member council on Friday adopted a resolution to renew the mandate of the mechanism for six months, preserving two of the existing crossings on the Syria-Turkey border.

The renewal came just hours before the current mandate expires at midnight.

Co-penholders of the text Belgium and Germany initially wanted to re-authorize the Iraqi crossing and earlier sought a yearlong extension, but Russia said the situation on the ground has changed dramatically and the renewed mechanism has to reflect the change.

The two competing sides had tabled rival draft resolutions in December, though both failed to get adopted.

On Syrian cross-border humanitarian relief, Zhang said that China has been actively engaged in negotiations on relevant draft resolutions, making every effort to coordinate and encourage all parties to show flexibility and work towards a compromise.

Given the current situation, Zhang said, extending the two crossing points by six months is realistic and feasible. "These two crossing points are the most important ones and serve the humanitarian needs of Syria."

He expressed hope that the relevant parties will continue to have constructive communication on Syrian cross-border humanitarian relief. 

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