Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Tuesday with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the urgent need to facilitate humanitarian access in Syria so the UN and humanitarian actors can deliver life-saving assistance to those affected by the February 6 earthquakes.
Secretary Blinken underscored the need for the Assad regime to meet its commitment to open the Bab Al-Salam and Al-Rai border crossings for humanitarian purposes, including through a Security Council authorization, if necessary, according to US State Department spokesman Ned Price.
The Secretary noted that an expanded resolution would give the UN and humanitarian actors the flexibility they need to more effectively deliver aid to people in need in Syria.
“Important conversation with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on expanding UN access to earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria. In addition to providing aid through USAID and State PRM, we offer our full support to UN-led efforts to surge humanitarian aid,” Blinken tweeted.
For her part, the US Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield welcomed the UN diplomacy, hinting at the arrangement between the UN and Assad to use the Bab Al-Salam and Al-Rai crossings.
She said the UN welcomes the news that some UN aid moved through the Bab Al-Salam and Al-Rai crossings, and that they look forward to receiving more from the UN about how this arrangement is playing out on the ground.
“We have made that call when it comes to the regime. We have made that call when it comes to opponents of the regime. Everyone should put aside their agendas and affiliations in service of one pursuit and one pursuit only, and that’s addressing the humanitarian emergency, the humanitarian nightmare that’s unfolding in parts of northwest Syria,” Price said.
He noted that the US “responded immediately in the aftermath of these earthquakes.”
“We deployed the Disaster Assistance Response Teams within hours. We announced last week that we’re providing an additional $85 million above and beyond our initial response. We deployed the urban search and rescue teams with nearly 200 members, 12 dogs, 170,000 pounds of specialized equipment.”
“The international community also has a collective moral obligation to do all it can,” he stressed.
Blinken further added that it is possible to use the military bases in Syria for aid