The Semalka (Fîşxabûr) Border Crossing, connecting Iraqi Kurdistan and northeast Syria, reopened on Monday following an unexplained month-long closure. However, the border will be open only for specific personnel units and humanitarian aid organisations, the Semalka administration of the crossing announced in a statement on their social media account.
The reopening of the Semalka Border Crossing comes as a relief to the region, which has been grappling with a scarcity of essential supplies, including infant formula and basic materials. The closure of the border crossing on 11 May by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), with no detailed explanation or date for reopening, had deepened concerns and exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the area.
According to the management, the Semalka border gate will operate according to the rules in force before its closure, that is, it will be open three days a week: Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. While the initial focus will be on facilitating the work of organisations involved in humanitarian aid efforts, it is hoped that the resumption of commercial traffic will gradually stabilise prices and alleviate the economic strain on local communities.
Over the past few weeks, several meetings have taken place between mediators and officials in Iraqi Kurdistan aimed at finding a resolution to the sudden closure of the crossing.
The Semalka crossing serves as a crucial link between the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and the KRG in Iraq. It caters to approximately 60 percent of the food and commodities entering North and East Syria.
Apart from its significance for the movement of goods and people between the two regions, the crossing also plays a vital role in transporting patients suffering from incurable diseases and facilitating visits, particularly from abroad.
The KRG unilaterally closed the gate once before, for 40 days at the end of 2021.