UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- The health sector suffers the most from the scaling down of cross-border humanitarian operations for Syrians as per a new Security Council resolution, said a UN spokesman on Thursday.
Resolution 2504 adopted on Friday re-authorized only two border crossing points of the four that were in operation.
The suspension of al-Yarubiyah crossing on the Syria-Iraq border means that all medical supply shipments through this crossing have come to an end, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
In 2019, 1.43 million medical treatments were shipped across al-Yarubiyah to support people in Syria, he told a daily press briefing.
The World Health Organization estimates that health service availability will be reduced in the medium term, and that gaps cannot yet be met through the other mechanisms, said the spokesman.
Services that are expected to be most affected include child health; reproductive health; secondary health care, including trauma care; mental health; and nutrition, he said.
Guterres reiterates the importance of sustained, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access for all Syrians who need it, he said.
The secretary-general will do everything possible to respond to the request of the Security Council for him to explore, by the end of February, the feasibility of using alternative modalities for the border crossing of al-Yarubiyah in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance, including medical and surgical supplies, reaches people in need throughout Syria, he said.
Contention has been high in the Security Council since late last year over the re-authorization of the cross-border aid mechanism.
On Dec. 20, the council voted on two competing draft resolutions, but failed to adopt either of them. The first draft prepared by Belgium, Germany and Kuwait, which sought the re-authorization of three of the four mandated border crossings for 12 months, was vetoed by Russia and China. The other draft, prepared by Russia, which would authorize only two crossings for a period of six months, failed to receive the required number of votes in favor to get adopted.
On Jan. 10, the day of expiry of the mandate, the council re-authorized two crossings -- both on the Syria-Turkey border -- for six months.
Since 2014, the Security Council had authorized the delivery of aid through four border crossings -- Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa on the Turkish border, al-Yarubiyah on the Iraqi border, and al-Ramtha on the Jordanian border.