The United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, will visit Turkey this week to meet with top officials to address the “dire humanitarian needs in Syria,” the US-Turkey relationship, and global problems, according to the US mission to the UN.
According to top sources with the US mission to the UN, Thomas-Greenfield will travel Turkey from Wednesday through Friday to meet with senior Turkish officials, U.N. agencies, relief groups, and Syrian refugees.
The trip will “focus on the extensive support provided by the United Nations and its partner agencies to meet the dire humanitarian needs in Syria,” it said in a statement. The envoy will also visit the Turkey-Syria border this week ahead of a likely showdown with Russia in the U.N. Security Council over the extension of a cross-border humanitarian aid operation.
Thomas-Greenfield will “convey the United States’ strong support for humanitarian access into Syria and the U.S. commitment to the people of Syria,” said one U.S. official.
“The Ambassador will meet with senior Turkish officials to discuss opportunities to strengthen the U.S.-Turkey relationship; work with our NATO ally to address global challenges; improve cooperation on Syria, including managing the refugee crisis; and recognize Turkey’s crucial role in the facilitation of cross-border assistance and work to welcome and provide refuge to millions of Syrian refugees,” the mission said in the statement.
“Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield will emphasize the urgent need for additional crossings and stepped-up international assistance, as there is no viable alternative to alleviate the vast needs of vulnerable populations in northern Syria – needs that have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it added.
“Nothing could be more urgent than continuing to provide life-saving aid through the cross-border mechanism … This has grown even more significant and more dire,” the U.S. official said.
In 2014, the 15-member Security Council authorised a four-point cross-border humanitarian mission into Syria. At Russia’s request, it curtailed that access to a single crossing point last year. due to resistance from Russia and China to renewing all four
Another clash is anticipated for the continuation of the operation’s mandate, which ends on July 10. A resolution extending council approval requires nine votes in favour and no vetoes from any of the five permanent members. Russia, China, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom
Several council members, notably the United States, are pressing for the cross-border operation to be expanded and the number of cross-border humanitarian access points to be increased.
“Nothing else can deliver the amount of aid in the frequency needed to support vulnerable populations in northern Syria,” said the U.S. official.
U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock appealed to the Security Council last week not to cut a cross-border aid “lifeline” to some 3 million Syrians in the country’s north as Russia questioned the importance of the operation.
Lowcock previously stressed the importance of keeping the crossing from Turkey to Syria’s northwest open for an additional 12 months.
Lowcock has warned that if this crossing is not reauthorized, food deliveries for 1.4 million people, millions of medical treatments, nourishment for tens of thousands of children and mothers, and educational materials for tens of thousands of pupils will be halted.
“We would like to see more cross-line and cross-border assistance.” “The cross-border operation, which provides a lifeline to over 3 million people, cannot be replaced,” Lowcock told the council. “We look to this council to ensure that that lifeline is not severed.”
According to Pedersen, cross-border help “remains critical to saving lives.”