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Russia, China Veto Idlib Resolution, Drive Fears of Humanitarian Catastrophe

Russia, China Veto Idlib Resolution, Drive Fears of Humanitarian Catastrophe

Friday, 20 September, 2019 - 06:00
It was the 13th time Russia vetoed a UN resolution on Syria and the seventh time China did so [Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution Thursday that calls for a near immediate humanitarian cease-fire in northwest Syria's Idlib province. 

The thwarted resolution was presented by Germany, Belgium and Kuwait last Wednesday afternoon and it calls for a cessation of hostilities in Idlib governorate at noon, Damascus time, Saturday.

The UN Security Council met on Thursday to avoid a further deterioration of the already catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Syrian province. However, Russia and China vetoed the resolution and presented an alternative one.

It was Russia's 13th veto of a UN resolution since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, highlighting the Security Council's impasse over the issue.

During the same session, another follow-up vote on a Russian and Chinese draft resolution regarding Idlib failed to gather a single vote in support besides those cast by its sponsors. In all nine nations voted against the measure, and four abstained. 

The Chinese and Russian rival text had called for a cessation of hostilities in September but gives no date, and it included exemptions for "military operations against individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with terrorist group, as designated by the Security Council."

Western nations said the wording was unacceptable, as it allowed too much room for interpretation and may not have stopped the bombing of civilians.

"Bombing hospitals, schools and civilian facilities is no help in the fight against terrorism," said Marc Pecsteen, Belgium's ambassador to the UN.

Also, France’ UN ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said that "as long as there is no solution both on the humanitarian side and the political side" France, European countries and others would not join any reconstruction plan.

Separately, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced that a long-sought agreement has been reached on the composition of a committee to draft a new constitution for Syria, an important step toward hopefully ending the more than eight-year conflict.

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