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Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari: Syria Needs Real Aid Not Just a Highlight

Feb 28, 2013


Syria needs real unbiased aid and not just a highlight on the humanitarian situation that does not meet the precise evaluation and description of what is actually taking place in the country, said Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Bashar al-Jaafari.  Al-Jaafari’s remarks came in a press statement following a closed-door session of the UN Security Council on the situation in Syria held on Wednesday. He dismissed as “having nothing to do with reality “the statements made on the humanitarian situation in Syria by UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

These statements came in line with “the unilateral outlook to what is happening in Syria”, said al-Jaafari, lashing out at the UN representatives for refraining to admit that the Syrian government has actually been cooperative with each one of them, a cooperation that resulted in signing what was labeled as “the response plan” with the UN.  He explained how the Syrian government, in the framework of its cooperation with UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, has allowed access to 11 international NGOs to deliver humanitarian aid into the Syrian territories.  He noted that the government is currently studying granting license to three additional NGOs to work in Syria, and has already allowed 111 Syria NGOs to distribute humanitarian aid inside Syria.

The Syrian Ambassador continued as saying that Representative of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and representatives of international and national NGOs have carried out about 200 field visits inside Syria.  “I’m talking about this point because it is related to the issue of “access”, and the Syrian government has granted this right of access to all areas inside the Syria territories,” al-Jaafari added.  Commenting on a statement made by UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, al-Jaafari described as “sexual crimes” what the UN official labeled as “sexual violence”, stressing that the perpetrators must be brought to justice. To this end, the Syrian government formed a national committee to investigate in all the crimes committed in Syria, including crimes of sexual violence against women and children, al-Jaafari noted.  He also referred to the photos of children recruited by the armed terrorist groups to fight in Syria covering the first pages of international papers, including the American, Turkish and British newspapers.

Syria’s UN Representative highlighted that the crisis in Syria has many dimensions and to focus on the humanitarian one only would be keeping away from reality, “as there is an unethical political program manipulating the humanitarian situation of the displaced Syrians.” This program, al-Jaafari added, is represented in organizing international conferences “where pledges and donations are offered to those who are called refugees, which is only ethically inappropriate.”

Al-Jaafari presented a document made by the OCHA which he said highlights the discrepancy between the actual value of the USD 1.5 billion donations, that received applause at Kuwait Conference, and the amounts which were actually paid, noting that the OCHA received only USD 200 million. He added that only 20 % of the USD 519 million allocations for humanitarian aid inside Syria based on the national response plan was paid, and that the OCHA received only 19 % of the USD 1 billion of the humanitarian response plan for Syrian refugees outside Syria.  “These figures show that what took place in Kuwait was a mere humanitarian bazaar just for the media,” said al-Jaafari, slamming Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE for taking back their pledges of USD 300 million each on the same day and even while the conference was still convened.

“Therefore, we need to look at the whole picture and in appositive way,” added al-Jaafari, calling for abiding by the UN General Assembly’s resolution 46/182 that respects Syria’s sovereignty and the sovereignty of other countries when distributing humanitarian aid.  Answering a question on the UN Security Council’s role towards the events in Syria, the Syrian Ambassador said “to make a highlight on the humanitarian situation in Syria does meet the precise evaluation.”

He lashed out at some Security Council member states that, even after two years now, “still ignore many of the important data,” noting that the Syrian government has so far sent around 300 letters to the Security Council, some of them include the names of 143 foreign terrorist along with information on their nationalities and the date on which they entered Syria across the border.  He referred to reports published by Reuters and the New York Times on shipments of advanced weapons, including from Croatia, making their way to the terrorist groups in Syria across the border, demanding that the Security Council focus on these facts.

Asked about the upcoming “Friends of Syria” meeting in Rome and the reports on the U.S. administration pledging to provide “non-lethal assistance” to the opposition, al-Jaafari said “What Syria needs is real unbiased and objective aid, as it also needs encouraging all the parties to engage in the national dialogue.”

He called for efforts to persuade the gunman’s supporters to sit at the dialogue table to resolve the situation in Syria based on the relevant Security Council resolutions and the Geneva Statement.

Al-Jaafari described as “a naive proposal” the prerequisite of “President al-Assad’s departure” in order to start the dialogue. “Those who want dialogue don’t put preconditions. It is called a national dialogue and not a national dialogue with preconditions,” he added.  Asked on whether he is ready to sit at the negotiating table with the opposition in the US, the Syria Ambassador clarified that negotiations are done through delegations, noting that the government has already assigned this task to the Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs.

“The point is that the party to sit at the other side of the table should accept the principles of dialogue, peaceful settlement, halting violence and respecting the sovereignty,” he stressed.  “Only then a government delegation and an opposition delegation could agree upon the work program that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people,” he added, pointing out that this is what the government-proposed political program was about and what was agreed upon in the initiatives of Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi.

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