Potential Transfer of Control of Cross-Border Humanitarian Aid to Northwest Syria


July 14, 2023

MedGlobal Very Concerned by the Potential Transfer of Control over Cross-Border Humanitarian Aid Operation from UN to Assad Regime

CHICAGO– MedGlobal and many in the NGO community are shocked and deeply concerned by yesterday’s announcement at the UN by the Syrian regime, offering to the UN to take control of cross-border humanitarian aid to 4.5 million Syrians, half of whom are internally displaced, in northwest Syria. This arrangement would supplant the UN-coordinated operations that assured the unfettered delivery of humanitarian aid since 2013.

The Syrian Ambassador to the UN said Thursday that the Syrian government has “taken the sovereign decision to grant the United Nations and its specialized agencies permission to use Bab al-Hawa crossing…in full cooperation and coordination with the Syrian government.”

According to the letter sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward and circulated to council members, the access will last for six months beginning Thursday.

The UN-operated aid reaches 2.7 million Syrians monthly with life-saving aid via Bab al-Hawa. Needs have only grown over 12 years of civil war as an economic crisis set in, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, and the country’s northern region was hit with a series of deadly earthquakes in February.

“How can we allow the same regime that bombed its people, used chemical weapons against children, attacked hospitals and schools, and starved children to death in areas that were under its siege in Ghouta, Madaya, and Zanafani to control the aid delivery to 4.5 million people whom it has treated as enemies?” said Zaher Sahloul, the president of MedGlobal. “This transfer of control of the Bab-Al-Hawa bottleneck, through which food, medicine, and baby formula flows in accordance to humanitarian principles, from a neutral party (the UN) to a regime that slaughtered its people and displaced half of its population will lead to more death and suffering among innocent civilians and will trigger another refugee crisis to Türkiye and Europe by desperate Syrians.”

Since 2021, Russia has forced the Council to shrink the cross-border operation and has threatened to let the 9-year-old operation shut down permanently. At stake are the lives of some 4.5 million people in Syria’s last opposition stronghold of Idlib, a majority of whom the UN says depend on humanitarian aid to survive after 12 years of war. About 85% of that assistance arrives through the Bab al-Hawa crossing.

MedGlobal operates several primary health clinics, hospitals, ambulance system, mental health programs, a drug rehabilitation center, medical training, nutrition, and vaccination programs that serve hundreds of thousands of mostly internally displaced people in northern Syria in accordance with international humanitarian principles.

Please contact Courtney Weigal at [email protected] or +1 708-692-0101 to arrange an interview with the MedGlobal team.