“This war has been going on for 10 years and ordinary Syrians are suffering. People are starving. Medical supplies are not delivered. to those in need, wherever they are,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN exclusively.
The new funding – the largest amount the US has ever donated to this Syria conference in Brussels – comes as the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine also continues to escalate, with millions of refugees fleeing the country due to Russia’s invasion.
“Assistance to Syria will in no way be affected by what we do in Ukraine. And this promise we’re making shows that,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
There are growing concerns about keeping the Bab al-Hawa border crossing from Turkey to Syria open, which is the only border crossing now open for humanitarian aid. In July, the UN Security Council resolution on its extension expires. The topic of this border crossing will be the focus of the UN Security Council in the coming months.
Thomas-Greenfield on Tuesday called for this crossing to remain open given the lifesaving support it provides. She also called for increased access to Syria for humanitarian aid.
“This is a matter of life and death,” she said at the conference.
It is unclear whether Russia, which has resisted opening border crossings with Syria in the past, will support leaving the crossing open this time.
“We think it’s in Russia’s interest to keep this border crossing open,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN, “because otherwise millions of people will starve to death in Syria. And they are inside, and the Syrian regime is responsible for this. In addition, this border crossing provides the Syrians with the necessary medicines, food and water, not only at the border, but also in the depths of Syria.”
Thomas-Greenfield said the US supported aid flowing from Syrian-controlled parts of Syria to other parts of the country this year, but reiterated that the border crossing must remain open.
“We also supported in our talks with the Russians last year that we would support cross-border humanitarian aid. Humanitarian aid flowing from Syrian-controlled parts of Syria to other parts of Syria. but cannot replace cross-border assistance,” she said.