FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A coalition of advocacy, human rights, faith-based, and civic organizations and Ambassador Robert Ford to Demand Relief for the Humanitarian Crisis in Idlib, Syria
WASHINGTON D.C., February 19, 2020 – On Thursday, February 20, a coalition of advocacy, human rights, faith-based, and civic organizations will hold a news conference in Washington, D.C. in Cannon House Office Building at 11 a.m. EST. Ambassador Robert Ford, the last American Ambassador to Syria, will give remarks. The coalition will bring attention to the dire humanitarian conditions in Idlib, Syria and demand the United States and the international community come to the aid of those suffering in Idlib. Syrian Americans who recently returned from humanitarian missions to Idlib will also take part in the news conference.
More than three million Syrian civilians in Idlib province are suffering in catastrophic conditions. Since December 1, more than 900,000 people have been displaced in northwest Syria - with most of them stuck in a small area on the border with Turkey. According to the United Nations, approximately 80% of the displaced are women and children. The harsh winter conditions and inadequate housing has caused the deaths of infants and children who freeze to death in the cold. U.N. Under Secretary, General Mark Lowcock called the crisis the largest exodus of civilians since World War II and the biggest humanitarian horror story in the twenty-first century. Turkey already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees and says it cannot absorb any more.
The U.N. has warned that the crisis in Idlib has reached a “horrifying new level.” The escalation in violence and bombings by Russian-backed Syrian forces have targeted vital civilian infrastructure, including health facilities, schools, mosques, markets, and residential areas.
The coalition will call on the U.S. administration to apply all diplomatic pressure to stop the bombing and restore humanitarian assistance; protect civilians in Idlib from Syrian, Russian, and Iranian forces; and urge U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to visit the 900,000 newly-displaced civilians.
WHO: Representatives of advocacy, human rights, faith-based, and civic organizations; Ambassador Robert Ford; and Syrian-American humanitarians returning from Idlib
WHAT: Advocacy, human rights, faith-based, and civic groups to demand relief for the humanitarian crisis in Idlib, Syria
WHERE: Cannon House Office Building, Room 121, 27 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003
WHEN: Thursday, February 20 at 11:00 AM EST
Organizations taking part in the news conference will include:
American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARCS)
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Human Rights Watch
Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
Syrian American Council (SAC)
Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF)
Syria Faith Initiative
Speakers scheduled to speak at the press conference include:
Robert Ford, retired U.S. ambassador to Syria from 2010 to 2014
Dr. Zaher Sahloul, president and cofounder, MedGlobal (Dr. Sahloul recently returned from Idlib)
Wa’el Alzayat, CEO, Emgage Action; former U.S. Department of State Middle East expert
Matthew Chrastek, programme coordinator, American Relief Coalition for Syria
Nihad Awad, national executive director, Council on American-Islamic Relations
Andrea Prasow, acting D.C. director, Human Rights Watch
Hoda Hawa, director, Washington D.C. office, Muslim Public Affairs Council
Dr. Zaki Lababidi, president, Syrian American Council
Mouaz Moustafa, executive director, Syrian Emergency Task Force
Michelle R. Taylor