World, Middle East

US announces $108M additional aid for Syrian people

Assistance in response to ongoing crisis 'caused by Assad regime, Russian, and Iranian forces,' says State Dept.

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 03.03.2020
US announces $108M additional aid for Syrian people  U.S. State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus

ANKARA

The U.S. announced Tuesday additional humanitarian assistance worth $108 million for civilians in war-torn Syria.

"Today in Turkey, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Kelly Craft, announced $108 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Syria in response to the ongoing crisis caused by Assad regime, Russian, and Iranian forces," U.S. State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Ortagus underlined assistance includes nearly $56 million from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and more than $52 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

It brings total U.S. humanitarian response to more than $10.6 billion since the start of the Syria crisis, according to the statement.

"Since December 1, 2019, attacks by Assad regime, Russian, and Iranian forces have forced nearly 950,000 people in northwest Syria – more than 80 percent of whom are women and children – to flee for their lives. This is the single largest forced displacement since the start of the Syria crisis," she said.

The aid will be provided through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), World Food Program (WFP), and non-governmental organizations.

"The United States strongly supports UN Secretary-General [Antonio] Guterres’ recommendation to open an additional border crossing between Syria and Turkey at Tal Abyad to deliver aid and medicine," Ortagus said, accusing Russia and China of having "cynically conspired to hamper the international community’s ability to deliver humanitarian aid to vulnerable areas in Syria through UN Security Council Resolution 2504, which reduced humanitarian border crossings into Syria from four to two and stopped 40 percent of the medical aid to northeast Syria, increasing an already significant gap in meeting humanitarian needs."

She stressed the U.S. join the UN in calling for an "immediate cease-fire and halt to the brutal violence in northwest Syria by the Assad regime, Russian, and Iranian forces, including attacks affecting schools, health care facilities, and settlements for the displaced."

Craft, who arrived in Turkey on Monday, added on Twitter that she came to the Turkish-Syrian border on behalf of the Trump administration on Tuesday to show "American solidarity with the people of Syria."

Syria has been mired in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN figures.

Idlib, in northwestern Syria, is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.

In recent months, nearly 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks by forces of the Assad regime and its allies.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression were expressly prohibited.

But since then, more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in airstrikes and shelling by the regime and its allies.

On Sunday, Turkey announced a new offensive, Operation Spring Shield, in northwestern Syria to protect civilians from regime attacks.


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