“This war has been going on for a decade and ordinary Syrians are suffering. People are starving. Medical supplies are not coming through. The US is the largest humanitarian donor across the board. And this is a core value for the United States to support people in emergency wherever they are,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN exclusively.
The new funding — the largest amount the US has ever donated at this Syria conference in Brussels — comes as Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis also continues to grow, with millions of refugees fleeing the country over the Russian invasion.
“The aid to Syria will in no way be affected by what we do in Ukraine. And this promise we are making shows that,” said Thomas-Greenfield.
There are mounting concerns about keeping the Bab al-Hawa border crossing from Turkey to Syria open, the only border crossing now open for humanitarian aid. A UN Security Council resolution to keep it open for a year is set to expire in July. 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 that crossing to be kept open, given the life-saving support it makes possible. She also called for expanded 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 opposed keeping border crossings to Syria open in the past — will support keeping the crossing open this time around.
“We think it’s in Russia’s interest to keep that border crossing open,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN, “because otherwise millions of people will starve in Syria. And they’re in and the Syrian regime is responsible. essential medicines, food and water for Syrians, not only at the border, but also deep inside Syria.”
Thomas-Greenfield said the US has provided aid this year from Syria-controlled parts of Syria to other parts of the country, but reiterated that the border crossing must remain open.
“We also supported in our negotiations with the Russians last year that we would support cross-border humanitarian aid. Humanitarian aid from Syria-controlled parts of Syria to the other parts of Syria. That has worked somewhat over the past year, but could limit the cross-border don’t replace help,” she said.