Artwork by Tammam Azzam
Read the full campaign report: Taking Sides: How the UN lost Impartiality, Independence and Neutrality in Syria.
The UN has done so much good in the world. But its aid operation in Syria has gone very, very wrong.
In the worst humanitarian catastrophe of a generation, the UN has handed the reins of its aid operation over to the very man responsible for the deaths of thousands and the displacement of millions of Syrians. Currently, the Assad regime is dictating where UN aid goes from Damascus, who the UN is allowed to work with and what the UN spends its money on.
The UN’s capitulation to the Assad regime means they have failed to successfully challenge Assad’s starvation sieges under which a million Syrians are denied access to food, medicine and running water. Instead, over 95% of the food aid managed by the UN in Damascus has been issued directly into areas under regime control.
Aid should go to those who need it most, regardless of side. That is the principle of impartiality. Instead of defending the importance of impartiality in the face of these bullying tactics from the Syrian government, UN agencies in Damascus have bent over backwards to protect their relationship with the regime.
UN staff in Damascus worry that if they push the Syrian government harder for access to besieged areas their visas will be revoked. But as David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee says, “the Assad regime can’t afford to kick the UN out of Damascus. The UN is feeding so many of [Assad’s] own people.”
Join Syria’s largest humanitarian and human rights groups and demand the UN set clear conditions for its cooperation with the Syrian government to enact a fair and impartial aid operation. If those conditions aren’t met, the United Nations in Syria should suspend cooperation with the government.
It’s time for the UN to grow a backbone. Nobody should be starving to death a few minutes drive from UN warehouses full of aid.