Syrian American Council Joins Call for Syria Aid Reform
WASHINGTON D.C., June 20, 2019 – The Syrian American Council commends the recent Human Rights Watch report “Rigging the System: Government Policies Co-Opt Aid and Reconstruction Funding in Syria” and calls for the recommendations in the report – which endorses aid deliveries and reconstruction independent of the Assad regime – to be implemented. Impoverished Syrians on the ground and Syrian American aid organizations working to help them have long observed the Assad regime's cynical manipulation of humanitarian aid. Though the report reveals ugly realities, we call on aid providers to seize this opportunity to recommit to their noble goals of supporting the Syrians most in need.
The Human Rights Watch report shows decisively that the Assad dictatorship in Syria has managed to divert significant funds and, at times, entire projects away from impoverished Syrians and toward its war machine. Permitting, reconstruction planning, and security prerogatives are used and abused by the regime to force humanitarian groups into funding dictatorship as a tradeoff for aid access to ordinary Syrians. Individual aid groups are unable to resist these strong-arm tactics because the regime can curtail or cancel contracts at will. Collective action by the aid community is required.
The Syrian American Council calls upon major aid groups operating in Syria, and the donor countries funding them, to enact the Human Rights Watch's recommendation to form a central clearinghouse that can vet projects free from pressure. As American citizens, we particularly urge the United States Congress to pass a resolution calling for greater transparency in aid deliveries to regime areas, and for the State Department to begin demanding such transparency from aid implementers – such as the United Nations – that Syrians have long identified as having been diverted from their core humanitarian missions by the Assad regime.
Michelle R. Taylor