After Russia, China veto, UN says medical aid for Syria stuck in Iraq

Displaced Syrians are pictured in front of a truck in Azaz, Syria January 22, 2020. Picture taken Jan. 22, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 January 2020

After Russia, China veto, UN says medical aid for Syria stuck in Iraq

  • “Some 400,000 medical items planned for delivery are stuck on trucks in Iraq and unable to cross,” says UN aid chief

UNITED NATIONS: Truckloads of medical aid for civilians in Syria’s northeast is stuck in Iraq, the United Nations aid chief said on Wednesday, after Russia and China prevented the UN Security Council from renewing authorization for the cross-border deliveries.
Earlier this month, the council allowed a six-year-long cross-border aid operation to continue from two places in Turkey, but dropped crossing points from Iraq and Jordan due to opposition by Russia and China. In December the two countries vetoed a bid to extend approval for both the crossing points in Turkey and Iraq.
“Some 400,000 medical items planned for delivery are stuck on trucks in Iraq and unable to cross,” UN aid chief Mark Lowcock told the council on Wednesday.
“The secretary-general (Antonio Guterres) has asked members of this council for their support in getting agreement that these items can be brought in,” he said. “As of today, they remain in Iraq.”
Lowcock said that the World Health Organization had warned that the removal of the Iraq crossing point from the cross-border aid operation would lead to “a reduction in the medical services available and a growing shortfall of medical supplies.”
Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has dismissed concerns about closing the Iraq border crossing because he said the situation on the ground had changed and humanitarian aid was being delivered to the northeast from within Syria.
“Instead of whipping up passions here, we would recommend that OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) as quickly as possible establish effective cooperation with the legitimate authorities in Damascus,” he said on Wednesday.
Deputy US Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet said the closing of the Iraqi border crossing had cut off 40 percent of UN medical equipment and supplies to northeastern Syria.
“Russia has denied principled humanitarian aid for those in need throughout Syria for over eight years. Now, with China blindly following its lead, Russia has escalated its campaign to restrict humanitarian access in Syria through a cynical and politicized effort,” she told the council.
China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun rejected the US accusation as groundless.
“Every country is entitled to vote its own position,” Zhang said. “Do you think we’re still in a period of colonialism and the whole world has to side with the US and the UK? The time has long gone.”
Lowcock said the United Nations was in talks with all parties, including the Syrian government, “to ensure reliable and adequate supply lines and humanitarian capacity in the northeast” and called for the “crucial” reopening of a key highway.
“No United Nations convoys containing medical supplies have gone from Damascus to the northeast this month. There were three airlifts in December. There have been none so far in January,” Lowcock told the council.


Egyptian ministry launches mobile app

Egyptian police guard in front of the new government district in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) east of Cairo, Egypt May 2, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 6 min 12 sec ago

Egyptian ministry launches mobile app

  • The app is available for Android users, and officials are working on making it available for iOS users as well, communications expert Ashraf El-Wardany told Arab News

CIARO: The Ministry of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriates Affairs has launched Kallem Masr (Call Egypt), a mobile app to facilitate communication with citizens living abroad.
Nabila Makram, minister of immigration and Egyptian expatriates affairs, said the free app includes a monthly electronic magazine issued by the ministry in both Arabic and English.
The app is available for Android users, and officials are working on making it available for iOS users as well, communications expert Ashraf El-Wardany told Arab News.
Android users can download the app from Google Play. Its sections include questions and answers, contact us, complaints, an interactive map of locations of embassies and consulates, and a news section on the ministry’s activities.

HIGHLIGHT

Android users can download the app from Google Play. Its sections include questions and answers, contact us, complaints, an interactive map of locations of embassies and consulates, and a news section on the ministry’s activities.

Islam El-Souissi, an Egyptian community leader in Rome, praised the app, saying “all Egyptians living abroad are expressing their great happiness” about it.
But some Egyptians who visited the app’s page on Google Play said it is not available in some countries such as Sweden. Others complained that they had problems logging in.