UN renews Syria aid; Russia abstains and advocates drawdown



NEW YORK (dpa)- The UN Security Council voted to extend humanitarian aid to Syria for 12 months on Tuesday - with an abstention from Russia.
This is the first action on Syria by the Security Council since Russia vetoed two attempts to extend the UN’s investigative mechanism into chemical weapons attacks in the country.



Russian deputy ambassador Vladimir Safronkov advocated a gradual drawdown of the cross-border aid scheme as the situation in the country has radically changed.
The UN delivers aid to rebel-held areas under the scheme, which Russia says violates Syria's sovereignty.
Aid is required by more than 13.1 million people in Syria, including millions of people who the UN struggles to reach as they are trapped in areas under siege, according to the Security Council resolution.
The council expressed "grave alarm at the dire situation" of hundreds of thousands of people trapped, including in Eastern Ghouta, not far from Damascus.
Fighting has continued since mid-November apart from a two-day pause in Eastern Goutha and not a single UN convoy has made it to a besieged location in December, emergency aid chief Mark Lowcock said.
UN peace mediator Staffan de Mistura thanked the Security Council for securing the aid renewal.
In a briefing on the Geneva peace talks, he said that he feared elections would be put off for a long time if the Syrian government sticks to their message that no constitutional review process or elections are possible until there is "no foreign presence at all and no terrorist presence at all" in the country.
"I cannot hide my disappointment" at the stalling of the Geneva talks, De Mistura said.
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Thursday, December 21st 2017
dpa
           


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