Resolution on humanitarian access in Syria adopted following difficult negotiations in UN Security Council

The UN Security Council today unanimously adopted Resolution 2585 on humanitarian access in Syria, extending the mandate for cross-border aid delivery for 12 months. This will enable the UN and humanitarian organisations to continue to send lifesaving humanitarian aid to millions of people in need in northwestern Syria.

The adoption of this resolution by the Security Council is of critical importance to the millions of Syrians who depend on the supplies of food, water and medicines provided through the UN’s cross-border humanitarian operation from Turkey. We saw productive cooperation between the US and Russia on the text of the resolution and hope that this constructive tone will also have a positive impact on the political process in Syria,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.  

Norway and Ireland are the co-penholders on Syria’s humanitarian file and have been responsible for leading the negotiations that resulted in the adoption of the resolution. We have worked closely with other countries in the Security Council and the UN. This is the first resolution on Syria to be adopted unanimously in the Security Council since December 2016.

‘The negotiations have been challenging. We have worked hard to secure agreement to extend the authorisation for the Bab al-Hawa border crossing on Syria’s northwestern border with Turkey by 12 months. Norway sought to expand the scope of the resolution to authorise the use of multiple border crossing points in the light of the deteriorating humanitarian situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, it was not possible to gain acceptance for this among all the members of the Security Council,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.

The UN’s cross-border humanitarian operation is the only way to deliver humanitarian aid to the population in northwestern Syria. There are currently no open supply lines from government-controlled areas to this part of the country.

‘The international community has an important responsibility to ensure that lifesaving humanitarian assistance reaches the hard-pressed population in northwestern Syria, where there are currently around 3.4 million people in need of humanitarian aid. Of these, roughly 2.7 million are internally displaced. These people are already very vulnerable, and their situation would have become even more difficult if deliveries of humanitarian aid had ceased,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.  

In conflict situations, all civilians are entitled to humanitarian assistance and protection. Norway considers it particularly important to prevent the politicisation of humanitarian aid. 

‘It is vital to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches all those in need, including people in areas outside government control. The UN and other humanitarian organisations must be given safe and unimpeded access to people in need of assistance,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.

The war in Syria is now in its eleventh year. More than half a million Syrians have been killed. Over 13 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid. Some 12 million have been forced to flee from their homes. The coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated the humanitarian situation.

‘The war in Syria has created one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time, and a political solution is urgently needed. The extremely difficult humanitarian situation provides a potential breeding ground for extremism and recruitment to terrorism. The conflict can only be solved through political negotiations and compromise. The work being done by UN Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen to find an inclusive political solution is critical and has our full support,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.

Substantial humanitarian support from Norway

Norway has contributed over NOK 15 billion in humanitarian support during the ten years the war in Syria has lasted, making it one of the largest donors to humanitarian efforts in Syria and its neighbouring countries. The Syria crisis is Norway’s largest ever humanitarian effort. In 2021, Norway will provide at least NOK 1.6 billion in support. Most of Norway’s humanitarian aid is channelled through the UN, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Norwegian humanitarian organisations. 

Facts about the situation in northwestern Syria:

  • Out of a population of 4.2 million, some 3.4 million people in northwestern Syria are in need of humanitarian aid.
  • 3.1 million people are heavily dependent on humanitarian assistance.
  • There are 2.7 million internally displaced people living in northwestern Syria.
  • More than 1.6 million internally displaced people live in 1402 camps.
  • 1.5 million children in northwestern Syria are in need of protection.

Press release about Norwegian humanitarian support:

Still enormous humanitarian need in Syria 10 years after war began