We face famine or virus: Syria’s displaced alarmed at aid impasse

by Omar Haj Kadour

After surviving months of bombardment, Nasr Sultan now fears his 10 children may starve or catch coronavirus as a divided UN holds up a renewal of cross-border humanitarian aid to rebel-held northwest Syria.

A UN Security Council resolution authorising aid deliveries through the Turkish border expired on Friday as Russia and China vetoed an extension.

The world body’s failure to agree on a compromise formula has threatened humanitarian assistance to an estimated 2.8 million people who depend on such handouts.

Germany and Belgium are still working on an initiative to rescue the authorisation in place since 2014, with hopes of bringing it to a vote this weekend.

But regime-ally Russia is pushing for reduced access on the grounds of sovereignty, prompting outrage in northwest Syria’s Idlib province, which this week recorded its first coronavirus cases.

In a crowded Idlib displacement camp, 45-year-old Nasr said life without aid would plunge into hunger many of those who had already lost their homes in Syria’s nine-year war.

“We have abandoned our home, our land and our livelihoods. The aid they give us is all we have,” he said from inside his tent near the town of Maaret Misrin.

“If the assistance is scrapped, we will face famine.” (AFP)

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