UN extends aid deliveries to Syria across borders for 1 year

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council approved the delivery of humanitarian aid across borders and conflict lines in Syria for another year Wednesday in a resolution aimed at reaching thousands in need in rebel-held areas without government approval.

The resolution, adopted unanimously, expresses grave distress at "the continued deterioration of the devastating humanitarian situation in Syria" where more than 13.5 million people require urgent assistance.

It cited the alarming situation in besieged areas where hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped.

"The significance, if implemented, will be that people who are in areas that are not held by the regime would be able to have access to much needed food, medicine, blankets, shelter provided by the U.N. and humanitarian agencies over the course of the next year," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said. "But as always it all depends on actions not words."

The Security Council accused the Syrian government of increasing "impediments" to aid deliveries across conflict lines, and the Islamic State extremist group and al-Qaida-linked groups of hindering and preventing aid deliveries "through deliberate interference and obstruction."

The resolution, sponsored by Egypt, New Zealand and Spain, emphasizes that Syria's humanitarian situation continues to threaten peace and security in the region and will deteriorate further without a political settlement.

It expresses "outrage" that the more than five-year Syrian conflict has led to escalating violence and the killing of well over 250,000 people.

The Security Council expressed grave concern at "the lack of effective implementation" of its previous resolutions on cross-border and cross-line aid deliveries which called for a halt to all attacks on civilians, schools, medical facilities and water supplies.

They also demanded an end to the indiscriminate use of weapons, including air strikes and barrel bombs, as well as suicide attack, torture and executions, and "the use of starvation of civilians as a method of combat" including by besieging populated areas.

The resolution, which extends the mandate for aid deliveries until Jan. 10, 2018, demands "the full and immediate implementation" of all previous council demands.

It asks Syrian authorities to positively and expeditiously respond to all requests for aid deliveries across conflict lines.

The resolution also reaffirms that the council will take further unspecified measures "in the event of non-compliance with this resolution" or previous ones.

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