The aid agreement is set to expire on July 10 this year - and just like last year, there is concern that Russia might block its extension.

On July 9 last year, exactly one day before the UN-mandated aid to Idlib was set to expire, I was on my way back to the Turkish border city of Hatay after visiting a refugee camp located in Sarmada in northern Syria's Idlib province. 

As we moved closer to the border crossing between Türkiye and Syria I couldn’t help but think of the gripping words that a father of three daughters had told me while we were filming our report: “It is a shame that each year the world has to talk about extending the main lifeline to Idlib (UN AID), when in reality the world powers should be talking about increasing the aid. This aid barely meets our basic requirements and if it is cut then many of us would die of hunger.”

The cross-border aid mechanism was first approved in 2014 and since then it has proven to be of paramount importance in averting a humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib. According to the UN, at least 50,000 trucks loaded with aid have so far rolled into Syria.

At the time, the expectation was that Russia is going to veto the aid extension in the UN Security Council, so my thoughts kept going in circles about what could possibly rescue these millions of people, the vast majority of whom are women and children. Frankly, I couldn’t find an answer. I remember asking my fixer and guide on the ground in Idlib - is there any other route by which these people can get food? He responded saying the only other way to get food supplies into Idlib is through regime-controlled areas but going there would mean suicide for these displaced people as the Russian-backed Assad regime forces regularly conduct airstrikes on the supply routes adjacent to northwestern Syria.

As much as I wanted to find a reliable source through which these people can be fed, in reality, there was none. The UN-mandated aid that includes some of the most basic necessities of life such as drinking water, wheat, rice and essential medicines was, and still is, one of the crucial means for their survival.

The aid agreement is set to expire on July 10 this year - and just like last year, there is concern that Russia might block its extension.

As power and power politics continue to take the centre stage in the Syrian conflict, Idlib continues to suffer, as it has for years now.

Here the feelings of relief and basic comfort can only last for a year because every 12 months the people trapped in this dire situation have to go through this toxic cycle where political discourse decides whether or not they will die of hunger.

As only a few weeks are left before the aid expires, the appalling situation faced by the Syrian people has once again become a topic of discussion among international political leaders. 

On June 21, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that: “More than 90 percent of people in the northwest of Syria need life-saving aid. Today I urged the UN Security Council to maintain its consensus on allowing cross-border humanitarian operations for an additional 12 months. We cannot simply give up on the people of Syria."

In 2021, after days of debate in the Security Council, cross-border aid from the Babalhawa border crossing was renewed through resolution 2585, but whether it will be renewed again is a question that no one but Russia knows - just like last year.

Source: TRT World