September 8, 2016
Washington, DC – Today, SAMS, along with 72 other Syrian NGOs (SNGOs) released a public letter expressing concerns over the recent actions of UN agencies based in Damascus, Syria. The 73 signatories provide critical humanitarian assistance to over 7 million Syrians, over 6 million of whom are in Syria. These organizations provide services across all humanitarian response sectors.
In the letter, the 73 organizations condemn UN agencies based in Damascus and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) for a lack of concrete action to respond to consistent and ongoing violations of human rights in Syria. The UN-coordinated humanitarian response continues to operate under the political influence of the Syrian government. The letter cites the denial and disregard of simple requests for the medical evacuation of children in besieged areas and the UN’s inability to end the use of starvation and sieges as tactics of war. The deliberate manipulation of humanitarian and medical aid has led to further suffering for the people of Syria.
In today’s letter, SAMS and the signatories call for:
A full and transparent investigation into the political influence of the Syrian government on the operations of humanitarian actors in Damascus.
The establishment of an independent and transparent monitoring body to provide oversight for humanitarian coordination in Damascus. The mechanism must include the participation of humanitarian NGOs operating throughout Syria.
A revision to the current process for medical evacuations in Syria. New protocols must be established to ensure that medical evacuations remain transparent to humanitarian actors and free from the influence of political negotiations and interests.
“The political influence of the Syrian government in the delivery of humanitarian aid has had a clear negative impact in operations on the ground. The Syrian people have suffered the most as a direct result. SAMS stands with the Syrian people. SAMS stands with our partners and calls for transparent operations that adhere to the principles of humanitarian relief, particularly independence and humanity,” said SAMS’s President, Dr. Ahmad Tarakji.
It is critical that the concerns of SNGOs are addressed in an immediate and timely manner. Until effective action is taken to ensure that political influence does not interfere with humanitarian operations, the 73 signatories are suspending information sharing within the Whole of Syria (WoS) response mechanism.