The Syrian American Council Cautions Aid Organizations Against the Weaponization of Aid by the Syrian Regime
In light of COVID-19, World Health Organization and others must confront Assad’s exploitation of aid organizations
WASHINGTON D.C., April 13, 2020 – The Syrian American Council advises careful decision making by policymakers and aid organizations in the face of calls by members of the United Nations to lift economic sanctions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nine years of war in Syria have revealed that the Syrian regime has used aid as a weapon of war while killing its own people, and will continue to do so, while deceiving aid organizations.
The world faces a challenge like it has never seen before, and the responses by governments and governing bodies require new ways of thinking. However, amidst any talk of lifting sanctions on despotic and criminal regimes, organizations like the World Health Organization and other United Nation entities must not allow themselves to be misled by the Syrian regime.
“The World Health Organization provided test kits to regime areas only, completely neglecting the areas outside regime control. Even if sanctions were to be lifted, actions like these make it clear that the regime and the World Health Organization will continue to use aid as a political weapon,” said Suzanne Meriden, Executive Director of the Syrian American Council. “Aid should be provided by the international community directly to those in need by Syrian organizations, not through agencies that have been manipulated by the regime to perpetrate war crimes.”
The Syrian American Council remains deeply concerned about the regime’s troubling response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many authoritarian dictators, Bashar Assad has taken an approach to the crisis that prioritizes security over health and truth. As such, entities like the United Nations and the World Health Organization cannot trust the regime with the lifting of sanctions and aid. Aid organizations and policymakers should consult with Syrian-led organizations and follow recommendations, such as those outlined by the Syrian Justice and Accountability Centre, on adequate humanitarian aid responses to the requests by states to lift sanctions.