Vital aid route between Syria and Turkey saved - but only for another year

  • ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery reports on the life-line aid route that refugees rely on

A last minute reprieve has saved the single border crossing between Syria and Turkey, on which the precarious lives of 3.5 million displaced people depend.

Robbed of so much by the ongoing Syrian Civil War, the humanitarian aid coming into refugee camps via the route is just about all survivors there have.

The Bab al-Hawa crossing is around 23 miles north of the sprawling camps near the rebel stronghold of Idlib.

It's estimated 1,000 trucks a month use the crossing under a United Nations mandate, carrying food, water, and medical and educational supplies.

Credit: ITV News

The crossing was set to close on Saturday, but a deal between Russia and the US has kept it open - though only for another year.

It brings some small sliver of hope for those in need, but humanitarian and human rights groups including Oxfam, the International Rescue Committee, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Physicians for Human Rights say it is not enough.

They have criticised the Security Council for allowing Russia to only allow aid through a single crossing - and only extending the agreement by a year.

'We just wait for the aid to eat and drink'

When aid deliveries began in 2014, the UN Security Council approved four border crossings.

But by January last year, Russia used its veto threat in the council, first to limit aid deliveries to two border crossings in the northwest, and then in July 2020 to cut the crossings to just Bab al-Hawa.

Oxfam’s Georges Ghali said: "One crossing point for such a short period of time is woefully insufficient for the scale of humanitarian need".