PRESS RELEASE / February 12, 2023

White Helmets leader says UN aid chief visit to Bab al-Hawa crossing into northwest Syria ‘too little too late’

Responding to the visit today by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, to the only humanitarian border crossing into northwest Syria at Bab-al-Hawa, the head of the White Helmets, Raed Al Saleh, said his visit was long overdue. Al Saleh met with Griffiths at the border crossing to demand the immediate opening of additional cross-border routes without waiting for UN Security Council approval.

“Since the moment the earthquake struck seven days ago we have been appealing to the UN to send urgent assistance to aid our rescue operations in north west Syria. For days these calls went unheeded and during this time countless lives have been needlessly lost. This visit is too little, too late. The UN’s failure to act quickly to save Syrian lives in the face of a humanitarian catastrophe is utterly shameful and should be a stain on its conscience,” he said.

“Waiting for UN Security Council authorization to reopen more border crossings into the northwest is completely misguided, this unnecessary stalling will only cost more lives. There can be no more delays. We urgently need the UN to open more border crossings into northwest Syria so that cross-border humanitarian aid can flow in unhindered. Failing to escalate medical aid deliveries rapidly will leave the UN with more blood on its hands.” 

The Syria Campaign has launched a petition to demand that the UN Secretary General  Antonio Guterres takes immediate action to ensure that all crossing points into northwest Syria are utilized effectively and to deliver aid, equipment, and technical support on the ground immediately.