Syria's Idlib risks catastrophe after Russia, China blocked U.N. aid resolution

Syria's rebel-held Idlib faces a humanitarian disaster after Russia, together with China, blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution on extending cross-border humanitarian aid to the province, The Times said on Friday.

“The majority of local organisations will stop working... The health system is already partially collapsing. In the next three months there will be a total collapse,” The Times quoted Omar al-Hiraqi, a doctor at a field hospital close to the Turkish border, as saying.

“It will be a catastrophe for the people living here. No one has any money to pay for medical care, not even one dollar.”

Russia, backed by China, cast its veto last month in U.N. Security Council over a resolution, which would have allowed cross-border humanitarian deliveries to Syria for a further 12 months from two points in Turkey and one in Iraq.

"The UN security council has met in a last-ditch attempt to revive the mandate that allows aid organisations to bring humanitarian supplies into the country. The annual renewal was blocked by Russia and China last month, and the deadline expires at midnight," The Times said.

“People are to be starved and allowed to die for want of the most basic medical supplies and help. Little wonder Isis and al-Qaeda appear phoenix like from these improbable ashes,” said Hamish de Bretton Gordon, an adviser to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations, which supports hospitals in opposition-held Syria.

The U.N.’s authorisation of border aid crossings is essential in Syria, where more than 4 million people living in rebel-controlled Idlib are in need of assistance as Syrian President Bashar Assad has intensified attacks in the province controlled by jihadi groups. 

Turkey and Russia made a deal in September 2018 that aimed at establishing a de-escalation zone in Idlib to keep the Syrian government from launching an assault. But, the Al-Qaeda-linked Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) significantly expanded its territory after the agreement was signed, provoking Syrian government forces to launch an offensive in the region this year in April, with air support from Moscow.