Canadian government officials on Sunday called the veto of a United Nations resolution to continue to deliver cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria “deeply disappointing.”
In a joint statement issued Sunday afternoon, minister of foreign affairs François-Philippe Champagne and Karina Gould, minister of international development, said the decision will “prevent millions of Syrians from receiving aid they urgently require.”
“We are particularly concerned about the situation in Idlib, where the population faces increased violence, including air strikes by the Syrian regime and Russia,” the statement reads.
According to the statement, the country has committed more than $1 billion in humanitarian, development and security assistance in response to the Syria crisis.
“We call on all parties to allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to populations in need,” the statement reads.
On Friday, China and Russia voted against a resolution that would have would have allowed cross-border humanitarian deliveries for a further 12 months from two points in Turkey and one in Iraq.
The resolution was co-sponsored by Germany, Belgium and Kuwait, and received 13 “yes” votes.
In order to pass, a resolution before the Security Council needs at least nine votes in favour and cannot be vetoed by Russia, China, the United States, Britain or France.
Friday’s move marked China’s 14th veto since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.
In the initial draft, the resolution’s co-sponsors sought to add a new crossing point to the four existing points and extend the mandate for aid deliveries for a year.
However, it was watered down in a failed compromise attempt, dropping a crossing point in Jordan and authorizing three others for six months.
On Monday, Russia and China introduced their own resolution, which would extend deliveries for only six months and would keep only two border crossing sites in Turkey.
The alternative resolution didn’t garner enough support to pass, collecting only five “yes” votes, six “no” votes and four abstentions.
The current agreement allows aid to be delivered through two border crossings in Turkey, one in Iraq and another in Jordan. It is set to expire on Jan. 10, 2020, leaving diplomats scrambling to reach a new agreement.
In a joint statement, Germany, Belgium and Kuwait said that by vetoing the resolution, the Security Council had failed more than four million people in need of assistance.
They said their proposal was based on the need to provide “critical humanitarian access.”
U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft, the current council president, said she was “deeply and profoundly disappointed” at the Russian and Chinese vetoes.
She said Russia’s goal was “to score political points” at “a public spectacle” and tarnish the Security Council’s credibility.
She said the council will “continue to work every day throughout the holidays until Jan. 10 to come to a resolution to help the people in need in Syria.”
In a statement issued Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, too, was critical of the outcome, saying Russia and China now have “blood on their hands.”
“The Russian Federation’s and China’s veto yesterday of a Security Council resolution that allows for humanitarian aid to reach millions of Syrians is shameful,” he said. “To Russia and China, who have chosen to make a political statement by opposing this resolution, you have blood on your hands.”
However, Russia’s ambassador to the UN said the co-sponsors were seeking “political goals” and said the alternative draft would have provided aid through the crossings in Turkey where necessary.
Similarly, China’s ambassador, Zhang Jun, said the aid to Syria was meant to be a temporary fix.
“Syria has primary responsibility for improving the humanitarian situation in Syria and we should prioritize providing humanitarian assistance from inside of Syria,” he said.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Syrian government forces pushed deeper into the northwest region of the country, getting close to a Turkish observation post in Idlib.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defence, also known as White Helmets, reported shelling and airstrikes on rebel-held villages in Idlib on Sunday, saying at least one civilian was killed.
-With files from The Associated Press and Reuters