Aid groups suspend cooperation with UN in Syria because of Assad ‘influence’

The Guardian reports: More than 70 aid groups have suspended cooperation with the UN in Syria and have demanded an immediate and transparent investigation into its operations in the country because of concerns the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has gained “significant and substantial” influence over the relief effort.

The coalition, which includes some of Syria’s most widely known aid organisations, told the UN it intends to withdraw from the UN’s information-sharing programme in protest at the way some of its agencies are functioning within the country.

In a letter to the UN (pdf), the 73 groups made clear they could no longer tolerate the “manipulation of humanitarian relief efforts by the political interests of the Syrian government that deprives other Syrians in besieged areas from the services of those programmes”.

The groups include the Syrian American Medical Society (Sams) and the Syrian Civil Defence, or “White Helmets”, which help 6 million Syrians.

Their ultimatum is the culmination of months of frustration about the delivery of aid to besieged areas of the country, and mounting concern over the UN’s strategy – criticism the UN maintains is unfair. [Continue reading…]

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