| UNITED NATIONS
UNITED NATIONS Feb 20 The U.N. Security Council
will vote on Saturday on a resolution to boost humanitarian aid
access in Syria, where the United Nations says 9.3 million
people need help, although it is unclear if Russia and China
will support or veto the draft.
Australian U.N. Ambassador Gary Quinlan, who co-authored the
text with envoys from Jordan and Luxembourg, told reporters the
vote would be held at 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) on Saturday.
The text includes demands for cross-border aid access and an
end to shelling and aerial bombardment, including barrel bombs,
and threatens "further steps" in the event of non-compliance.
These were among the main sticking points during almost two
weeks of negotiations on the draft, said diplomats.
Russia, supported by China, has shielded its ally Syria on
the U.N. Security Council during the three-year-long civil war.
They have vetoed three resolutions condemning Syria's government
and threatening it with possible sanctions.
Western diplomats said a possible Friday vote by the
15-member council was pushed to Saturday after Russia said it
needed more time.
"A delegation has requested to have some time to get some
instructions from its capital," French U.N. Ambassador Gerard
Araud said, although he did not name the country.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday Russia
would block the adoption of a resolution that allowed aid
convoys to enter Syria without the consent of the Damascus
During a visit to Baghdad on Thursday, Lavrov said the
resolution should spell out that cross-border aid deliveries
should be organized in accordance with international
humanitarian law, which requires a government's consent for such
"I don't see why people cannot reiterate this, especially
since we have so many examples when not food, not medicine, but
arms and other equipment for the fighters are being supplied
across border," Lavrov said. "If people are so concerned about
using this particular method of providing assistance they could
use the same routes they use to supply arms."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on
Thursday that China believes any action by the Security Council
"should be conducive to pushing for a political solution to the
"The relevant action should also respect the U.N.'s guiding
principles on humanitarian aid, upholding fairness and
neutrality," she told reporters in Beijing.
Western members of the Security Council have been
considering a humanitarian resolution for almost a year. After
months of talks, the council adopted a non-binding statement on
Oct. 2 urging more access to aid, but that statement produced
only a little administrative progress.
U.N. aid chief Valerie Amos last week urged the Security
Council to act to increase humanitarian access in Syria. Amos
has repeatedly expressed frustration that violence and red tape
have slowed aid deliveries to a trickle.
The United Nations has said that well over 100,000 people
have been killed in the civil war. The opposition Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights has said that more than 136,000
have been killed since a revolt against President Bashar
al-Assad began in March 2011.
(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Ahmed
Rasheed in Baghdad; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)