U.N. Security Council renews cross-border Syria aid authorization

Kurdish refugee girls from the Syrian town of Kobani play in a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province November 13, 2014. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday renewed for 12 months its authorization for humanitarian access without Syrian government consent into rebel-held areas of Syria at four border crossings from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. The unanimously adopted resolution authorizes aid deliveries across Al Yarubiyah on the Iraq border, Al-Ramtha from Jordan and Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa from Turkey. The Turkish posts cross into territory held by Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that has seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria. The United Nations says some 12.2 million Syrians now need humanitarian aid, an increase of 2.9 million people in just 10 months. Nearly half of the Syrian population is displaced with more than 7.6 million internally displaced and over 3 million refugees in neighboring states. The resolution calls for continuing a monitoring mechanism for loading aid convoys in neighboring countries, which confirms for Syria that aid consignments are in fact humanitarian relief. It says the council is "gravely concerned" with the ineffective implementation of previous resolutions demanding increased aid access to Syrian civilians trapped in hard-to-reach areas, and at the barrel bombs, air strikes, torture and abuse of children in Syria's civil war, now in its fourth year. "The council's strong demands have gone unheard," U.N. humanitarian aid chief Valerie Amos told the council earlier this week. "The parties to the conflict continue to ignore the most basic principles of humanity," she said. "In many parts of Syria the level of violence has worsened, with civilians continuing to pay heavily with loss of life, serious injuries, psychological trauma, ongoing and recurring displacement." The resolution adopted on Wednesday also had the council condemning impediments to the delivery of humanitarian aid across borders and front lines. It added that U.N. humanitarian aid agencies and their partners should "scale up humanitarian deliveries into hard-to-reach and besieged areas, including by using, as effectively as possible, (the authorized) border crossings." The resolution has the 15-nation council "expressing its grave concern" that parts of Syria have been taken over by Islamic State and Al Nusrah Front militants. The council also voiced support for U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura's "action plan" to implement local ceasefires in some regions of Syria, with the country's second city Aleppo as a possible starting point. Some 200,000 people have died in the conflict, according to U.N. estimates. (Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli)