“The evolving humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis,” by Marika Sosnowski

The evolving humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis
Marika Sosnowski – @MikiSosnowskihttp://marikasosnowski.com/
For Syria Comment, May 2015

In 2015, the UN has requested a staggering US$8.4 billion to help 18 million people within Syria and the immediate region. This is a huge sum and the largest humanitarian appeal in UN history. Five years in to the brutal civil war, the humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis has predominantly focused on providing immediate relief in the form of food, health and sanitation. However, the complex and extended nature of the Syrian conflict now means that humanitarian actors are grappling with the medium to long-term issues the conflict has caused for Syria and its neighbours. These challenges include civil society development and increasing the rule of law within liberated Syrian communities, providing children with access to education as a normalising measure and an increased focus on livelihoods and creating economic opportunities in refugee populations.

At a meeting of donor countries in Berlin in December 2014, the UN announced the Strategic Response Plan for Syria that ‘incorporates, for the first time, significant development aspects’ in addition to addressing essential humanitarian needs (my italics). The Strategic Response Plan shows that the situation in Syria is no longer all about immediate disaster relief but has shifted to also include resilience and development aspects. As the term suggests, rather than addressing immediate needs, the aim of resilience and development programs is to act as a crucial bulwark against future instability and violence spawned by the Syrian conflict regionally and globally.

The medium to long-term advantages of resilience and development programming not only include regional stability but domestic benefits for national security and counter-terrorism. However, in order to be fully effective, donor requirements in the allocation of aid funding, particularly towards small Syrian NGOs, need to be rethought as well as supporting greater access for larger donors to hard-to-reach areas within Syria. These initiatives will hopefully provide more effective programming, value for money and ultimately, benefit people searching for some level of stability amongst the chaos.

Aid as a counter terrorism measure

A concern for most donor countries has been the threat posed by foreign fighters returning from the Syrian conflict or homegrown terror attacks inspired by the likes of ISIS. Given that many Western countries are now directly involved in military action against ISIS, an increasing number of foreign fighters may be likely to view their circumstances through the prism of a global war. This places countries in the military coalition at greater risk of blowback. Additionally, the dominant counter-terrorism response in many countries such as Australia, the US and France has so far been punitive and involved blanket prohibition and imprisonment of foreign fighters. For example, France recently jailed two underage boys who had returned voluntarily from Syria and Iraq after becoming disillusioned with IS and Australia has passed wide-ranging counter-terrorism legislation that includes imprisonment for entering areas of Iraq and Syria.

A recently published policy paper by the Brookings Institute suggests that instead of over-relying on punitive measures to combat terrorism, increasing funding and involvement in humanitarian programs that aim to help people affected by the conflict in Syria has the potential to deradicalise a significant portion of foreign fighters who were originally motivated, not by violence, but by a genuine desire to defend the Syrian people against the brutality of the Assad regime. Older research by AidData also suggests that foreign aid has the ability to decrease incidents of terrorism especially when the funding is targeted towards resilience and development sectors such as education, health, civil society and conflict prevention.

Agile and targeted aid

Syrian NGOs and local community organisations such as local councils are well placed to play a larger role in the delivery of these resilience and development programs given that they have direct access to many hard-to-reach areas and communities within Syria, local knowledge, language skills and are well connected with the ability to negotiate between different groups and areas. Unfortunately, the international community has so far been somewhat suspicious of supporting Syrian humanitarian organisations because many are considered unknown entities that cannot fulfil various funding and reporting requirements. These requirements include being in existence for more than five years (many were only created as a result of the uprising that began in 2011), being registered in Syria (there were various restrictions placed on the registration of civil society organisations under the al-Assad regime) or having undertaken a number of audits. While there are genuine donor concerns with monitoring and evaluating aid delivery – ISIS’ distribution of World Food Program marked packages early this year remains a very public example of failure – restrictions on funding Syrian organisations need to be rethought in light of the benefits they can offer.

Additionally, Security Council resolution 2191, and its two predecessors 2139 and 2165, succeeded in securing authorisation for UN agencies to use the most direct routes available for delivering relief inside Syria without the prior approval of the Assad regime. This includes through border crossings and across conflict lines. Thomas H. Staal, acting assistant administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance said in a recent statement that, ‘this resolution [2191] has allowed us to access people in need in an average of 66 hard-to-reach areas each month.’ In practice, many issues remain. A recent multi-author report assessing the impact of the resolutions suggests that in order to be effective, influential countries must continue to press for the streamlining of administrative processes for aid agencies and maintain timely access through border crossings. However, the fact that they were passed by the Security Council at all does potentially mark an important shift in international humanitarian law with repercussions for humanitarian access going beyond the Syrian crisis.

Rethinking aid to Syria

Jordan and Lebanon have recognised the need for longer-term development and stabilisation initiatives to address the structural deficiencies and challenges to social, economic and environmental sustainability associated with the influx of large Syrian refugee numbers. However, the international community has generally been slow to recognise the ongoing and complex nature of the Syrian conflict and see that shifts in humanitarian response cannot be linear, from humanitarian to resilience to development, but rather need to consider and address all these elements in tandem. While some donor countries, such as the USA, UK, Denmark and Canada have begun to adopt this approach, other countries like Australia lag in this area.

Large and reputable humanitarian agencies like the UN, Oxfam, World Vision and Save the Children continue to play a significant role in the delivery of the humanitarian response to the Syrian quagmire. However, new thinking is also necessary in diversifying the allocation of aid money as well as supporting the implementation of SC resolution 2191 as ways to effectively access areas within Syria given the vast scale and rapidly changing nature of the conflict.

In uncertain times citizens crave even basic levels of stability. Sadly, there remains a very real need to continue life-saving essential support to millions within Syria and regionally. The additional focus of the international community and the UN on development and resilience initiatives inside Syria and for refugees can also hopefully contribute to increasing levels of stability and normalcy for the all too many people affected by this conflict.

Comments (17)

ALAN said:

Despite the fact that the forces of Houthis voluntary groups not go to any comparison with the military armada of Arab-Anglo-Saxon coalition. As promised the leaders of the Yemeni rebels “to die rather than give up” and Riyadh failed to break their resistance.
The imperial ambitions of Al Saud seems to be broken after a harsh reality when only modern weapons and dollars are not enough to win even a local battle. Not being able to win in Yemen as well, and to get out of this whole story to save face, the Saudi leadership began the systematic extermination of the Zaidi – one of the major divisions of the Shia branch of Islam that inhabit the northern regions of Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has long wanted to “liberate” the peninsula from those who do not share the radical views of the Wahhabis, and here, and no need to invent a reason. To achieve this, Riyadh uses prohibited cluster munitions, which is not only a crime against humanity, but also quite an effective way to destroy the civilian population. According to testimonies of human rights activists trying to once and for all to achieve a definitive ban on the use of cluster bombs, it is a weapon in 98 percent of cases, claiming the lives of civilians.
while the world’s media are silent about these crimes, the world could easily forget that the life of every Yemeni priceless.

May 10th, 2015, 1:31 pm


jamal said:

How would anybody advocate for killing the women and babies of Alawites?

This girl/boy named Tara should be banned from this forum, such poisoning thoughts should not be tolerated.

May 10th, 2015, 6:03 pm


Observer said:

Where did this Maher SharafEddine write or say to kill all Alawis?I read the article that Tara posted and did not find such a detail.

I tried to google him and did not find his articles saying that. Maybe I missed something. I also saw the episode with Faysal Kassim and do nor recall him saying to kill all Alewites

Just curious but then again everyone must be Secular Arab Syrian Nationalists and yet every minority has to stay as a sect/ethnic based minority. For God’s sake break it up and live and let live

May 10th, 2015, 8:51 pm


Observer said:

Here is his comment on Facebook two days ago:

ماهر شرف الدين
May 8 at 11:11am ·
الذين لم نسمع لهم همسة في إدانة مجازر العلويين… نسمع اليوم جعيرهم في إدانة حلقة “الاتجاه المعاكس”!
آه أيها النفاق كم لك من مُريدين!

May 10th, 2015, 9:02 pm


Observer said:

One more

الهجمة التي يخوضها الفلول ضدّي (والتي بلغت ذروتها بعد حلقة “الاتجاه المعاكس”) تريد أن تُصوّرني إنساناً طائفياً حقوداً!
لكن خسئتم أيها الفلول!
لم ولن أُعادي علوياً لسبب طائفي بل لسبب سياسي إجرامي ارتكبه معظم العلويين في حق بلادي!
أنا غاضب! وما سمعتموه البارحة هو مجرّد غضب صادق من إنسان حزين… وليس من إنسان حاقد!…

I would add that the thought process of Ibn T has been imbedded fully into the minds of the community to the point that we have our own Alawi Ibn T on board.

May 10th, 2015, 9:05 pm


Tara said:

That is exactly the point observer . Alawis specifically on this site can spew their anti sunni hatred and they call it secularism and if a sunni starts any discussion that has the taboo word ” Alawi” then their complex appears and they call it sectarianism. Not only this but they start to lie. I call for banning characters for stupidity .

Stupidity is when one repeats the words of other while being too stupid to verify.

I ask Jamal to be s man and either find us where we called for killing Alawis or to admit stupidity plain and simple.

I honestly can tolerate sectarianism. We lived it in Syria. It is what assad regime and his followers demonstrated to us on daily basis. I just can’t tolerate stupidity….

May 10th, 2015, 9:44 pm


mjabali said:

Observaar the French Chef is defending a man who called to kill all Alawites, in Syria, and outside Syria too.

Maher Sharaf al-Din said that ALL ALAWITES should be killed.

Maher Sharaf al-Din called for the death of ALL Alawites in a very casual manner on live TV watched by millions, I saw it. He was very comfortable while calling for the death of millions of people while he was on al-Jazeera. The host of the show also called for the same thing.

So, whatever Maher Sharaf al-Din says now is irrelevant. His words contradicts all his claims of innocence. His words unified all Alawites, with or against al-Assad: All were touched by the genocidal Maher Sharaf al-Din.

Let Maher Sharaf al-Din bark and scream for years, his words on TV calling the Alawites monkeys while calling for their death speak for themselves. He asked to kill the Alawites ON LIVE TV ya سكران.

He repeated many times that ALL Alawites should be killed.

Maher Sharaf al-Din insisted on calling the Alawites monkies on Live TV. He repeated this many times. What type of TV al-Jazeera is, one may ask?

PS: Observar you stick your big nose in subjects that you have no knowledge about. Also, if I do not answer your requests to answer to your questions that is because it is a waste of time. You have your mind set on believing certain things, for example, look how you came to defend a guy you do not know what he did or say.

مستواك ضعيف ياابني مثل مستوى الدجالة تارا حيص بيص

By the way: Maher Sharf al-Din is more violent and blood thirsty than Ibn Taymiyah. Ibn Taymiyah issued Fatwas to kill all Alawite males above 14, take the women as war loot, and teach the children Sunnism. Maher Sharaf al-Din and al-Jazeera said to kill all Alawites. He is worst than Ibn Taymiyah, and that by itself is an achievement knowing how much blood thirsty Ibn Taymiyah is.

May 10th, 2015, 10:13 pm


mjabali said:

Tara حيص بيص

You are defending a man who called for the death of 2 and half million Alawites on live TV..We all saw him….It is that simple…..

Also, we can read on this blog..

Sometimes saying that you made a mistake is not that bad…

.من هو الحمار الذي أعطاكي شهادة محو الأمية

May 10th, 2015, 10:27 pm


jamal said:

Tara حيص بيص

I think Mjabali shut you down for good. Have some decency and just disappear quietly.

When you call for killing other humans remember your Quran which said “killing one soul is like killing humankind” or do you only do selective reading and embrace things like “kill them”, “take their women loots” “enslave their kids as servants”. So either be a respectable ambassador to your Sunnism or stop claiming the belonging.

In the new Syria people like your mind will not have a space between us.

May 10th, 2015, 11:30 pm


ALAN said:

Che Guevara once wrote:
“Let me say, with the risk of appearing ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love. It is impossible to think of an authentic revolutionary without this quality. This is perhaps one of the great dramas of a leader; he must combine an impassioned spirit with a cold mind and make painful decision without flinching. Our vanguard revolutionaries must idealise their love for the people, for the most hallowed causes, and make it one and indivisible. They cannot descend, with small doses of daily affection, to the terrain where ordinary men put their love into practice. “

May 11th, 2015, 2:00 am


Mina said:

Fisk on Qatar, aljazeera, and “journalism”

Tara and Observed are paid trolls. Nothing new here. One can just read their posts of the years that just passed.

May 11th, 2015, 3:56 am


ALAN said:

As noted in a recent authoritative publications of the Brookings Institute, in Turkey for a long time acted (and continues to operate to this day), the command center of US intelligence, which oversees all the operations supported by the United States of various groups, including ISIS and the so-called “moderate opposition. ” Indirect recognition which the author of the material made in the hope that the government of Bashar al-Assad will be overthrown, and “ex post facto” no deal would not only emphasized the impatience of the West as quickly as possible “untied” to the conflict in Syria.

Indeed, the changing of regional dynamics and the increasing global awareness of who really is behind the Syrian conflict leave Washington no choice but to “try to force the” motley army of thugs, which the White House gathered in Syria, “throw all your differences “for the speedy overthrow of the Syrian government.

However, the. war in Syria – which is part of a larger conflict, a kind of “Third World” where no uniforms, the officers’ valor and open confrontation. And so, given how high the stakes in this conflict, impatience West has forgotten all caution is understandable.

However, in case they did not manage to bring down the syrian government , the representatives of Washington has no plan B, and the victory in this war is still in hands of SAA !

Based on the events mentioned above, the yard is not a place for the activity of the carrier pigeon, coming from Australia

May 11th, 2015, 5:44 am




Is there any of your posts where the Word ALAWITE is not present?

Boring and deep sectarianism is yourt flag.

People like you are the cause of what happens in Syria.
By defending tolerance what you really defended was the greeding of power of minorities over the large majority using religious pertenance and tribal clientelism as a tool for control of the masses.

When you insist on talking about alawites please explain how almost all high degree security services were alawites and how they helped to retaind Assad House the power and how they killed, raped and destroyed lifes for at least 40 years.

Thank you.

May 11th, 2015, 6:15 am


Observer said:

All I asked is to produce the sentence where he said to kill All Alewites.
That is all, I asked for. Can you post the transcript or part of the episode where he said that. Again if he did then this is terrible indeed but I am just asking. I am just curious nothing more.

Once again there is real a dialogue des sourds. Dialogue of the deaf. I asked questions and the answer is that I am too ignorant to deserve a response. I conclude that in reality there are no answers.

Long live Alawistan

May 11th, 2015, 7:45 am


Mina said:

Ref: call for genocide of the Alawites

Go and tell Memri… they share the disinterest of the usual paid trolls

May 12th, 2015, 8:19 am


Syrialover said:

MINA #11 said:

“Tara and Observed are paid trolls. Nothing new here. One can just read their posts of the years that just passed.”

People have been kicked off this forum for less than that.

You are not very smart, MINA. There are some very obvious real “paid trolls” on this forum. So how come you don’t pick and name them?

TARA and OBSERVER, in striking contrast, are authentic, independent individuals who have been posting here for years.

Are you?

May 15th, 2015, 6:56 am


Truth is not Falshood said:

The biggest point being missed by this article is that any aid handed to the assad regime will (and has been) redirected to the SAA and alawite regions (which have been the least affected by the war). Whenever rebels liberate a position, they find international agency donated food stocked within. The food certainly does not reach regime besieged areas like yermouk camp where people were dying of hunger in the streets.

May 19th, 2015, 7:51 pm


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