Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the United States is increasing its humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people by more than $12 million, bringing its total aid in response to the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown against its people to $25 million.
Clinton announced the aid increase in Istanbul April 1 after Syrian opposition representatives met with her and officials from more than 70 countries to discuss ways of supporting the Syrian people.
“We will be providing greater humanitarian relief to people in need, and we will support the opposition as it works toward an inclusive democratic transition that preserves the integrity and institutions of the Syrian state,” Clinton said.
According to an April 1 State Department fact sheet, the U.S. humanitarian assistance includes $10.5 million for the World Food Programme (WFP); $8.5 million for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); $3 million for the International Committee of the Red Cross; and $2.8 million for nongovernmental organizations.
The assistance “includes medical supplies and other humanitarian relief for displaced and vulnerable and besieged Syrian communities,” the stockpiling of additional supplies, and the improvement of logistical capacity for their delivery as conditions in currently inaccessible parts of the country allow, the fact sheet said.
The WFP estimates that 1.4 million people lack food security as a result of the violence, and the organization is currently providing assistance to 100,000 people inside Syria. The WFP food rations are targeting “displaced Syrians and host families, households that have lost breadwinners or livelihoods, female-headed households, and unaccompanied minors,” according to the fact sheet.
In addition, UNHCR “is delivering critical medical services and supplies, food, water, blankets, hygiene kits, and heaters” to Syrians who have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, and to host families that are sheltering them, the fact sheet said.
The Bashar al-Assad regime reportedly agreed to implement a peace plan supported by U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan that calls for an internationally supervised end to the violence, the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance and a Syrian-led political process. Clinton noted that one week after the regime’s pledge, it has still failed to deliver on its promises.
“Rather than pulling back, Assad’s troops have launched new assaults. Rather than allowing access for humanitarian aid, they have tightened their siege. And rather than beginning a political transition, the regime has crushed dozens of peaceful protests. We can only conclude that Assad has decided to add to his long list of broken promises,” she said.
Clinton renewed her call for an immediate end to the killing and said the international community needs to set a timeline for the next steps to take if Assad continues his refusal to implement Annan’s plan, saying, “There cannot be process for the sake of process.” She expressed concern that the Syrian leader may only be stalling to gain time to totally suppress the opposition.
GATHERING EVIDENCE ON HUMAN RIGHTS ATROCITIES
The United States is also working to establish a “Syria Accountability Clearinghouse” and is giving $1.25 million for the project and its ability to compile evidence that could be used in future prosecutions and reconciliation efforts.
According to an April 2 State Department fact sheet, the Clearinghouse will train Syrians and partner groups to “collect, collate, analyze, and securely store evidence, documentation, and other information concerning human rights abuses and violations, while protecting witnesses and sources.”
The records compiled by lawyers, activists and others “could be used for a broad range of transitional justice and reconciliation processes, including truth-seeking, memorialisation, and prosecutions,” the fact sheet said, and can help “develop trial-ready dossiers against individuals responsible for violations of international or domestic criminal law.”