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HRW: Syria regime restricts aid deliveries to punish opposition

Turkey distributes humanitarian aid in Al-Bab town of Aleppo, Syria on 26 October 2017 [Jawad al Rifai/Anadolu Agency

Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed yesterday that the Syrian regime is meddling in the delivery of aid in order to divert it to "fund its atrocities, punish opponents, and benefit those loyal to the government".

In a report published on its website, the HRW said that the Syrian Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC), a Syrian human rights organisation, obtained documents that revealed the Syrian intelligence branches have long interfered with the aid response in Syria.

The rights group said that the new documents confirmed findings from earlier reports by Human Rights Watch and Chatham House.

Sara Kayyali, a Syria eesearcher in the Middle East and North Africa Division of the HRW, wrote in the report that "HRW found the Syrian government has developed a policy and legal framework that allows it to divert aid and reconstruction resources to fund its atrocities, punish opponents, and benefit those loyal to the government."

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She added: "One of the ways it does is to use security forces to interfere with and unduly influence aid delivery."

Sara continued: "The documents analysed and verified by SJAC confirm this. They include orders by the Political Security Directorate, an intelligence agency known for torture and arbitrary arrests, to its branches giving guidance on whether to allow or restrict access for aid."

"The orders make it clear that the decision to restrict access was based on political considerations rather than security or humanitarian needs. These considerations included whether these areas were held by the opposition (and thus not safe), and whether families of fighters were present."

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"The documents also confirm the government's policy of removing life-saving supplies from convoys."

Sara concluded: "By failing to reform the current system which aid workers are currently operating in – including ensuring humanitarian programming is independent from government meddling – aid agencies and investors risk financing the machinery of repression in Syria and not reaching those most in need of assistance."

HRWInternational OrganisationsMiddle EastNewsSyria
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