Saturday, February 02, 2013

My Qs w/State Dept spox Nuland re UN's half a billion humanitarian aid to the Syrian Regime

The part of February 1st State Dept briefing where I pressed the spox re the half billion aid allocated UN agencies to be distributed thru the Syrian regime. 

More Info:

The Syrian National Coalition protests:

QUESTION: And the question I asked last week about this half a billion aid, humanitarian aid goes to Syrian Government, are you confident that this half a billion money will be distributed fairly and those who need the most thru the Syrian Government?

MS. NULAND: Well, Ilhan, we talked about this a little bit on Monday and a little bit last week, that the international approach had been twofold on the humanitarian side: to support UN organizations who are operating inside Syria and NGOs, and then also to work with countries like Turkey and Jordan who are sheltering refugees in their countries.

In the context of the meeting that we had in Kuwait where the United States, as you know, increased our humanitarian contribution by an additional 130 million, bringing us to 365 million overall, we’ve added another intensive area of focus, which his to work through nongovernmental organizations and the Syrian Opposition Coalition to try to get more of the international assistance directly into areas that have been liberated and directly into the hands of local coordinating councils so that they can support the humanitarian needs of those people, because concern had been that the regime might block UN agencies from being able to get into areas it no longer controlled, so we had to find other ways to get there. That speaks to things like the extra 10 million we put forward for flour for Aleppo, where there’s obviously a crying need, winterization, et cetera, in those parts of the country.

QUESTION: But still my question is: Are you confident that this regime that you have been condemning for months for its atrocities, this regime will be able to distribute this fair (inaudible) to people that --

MS. NULAND: Of course not. We’ve been clear for more than a year, Ilhan, that they use humanitarian relief for political purposes, that they withhold access to areas that they consider sensitive, that they use humanitarian assistance as a weapon of their brutality against their own people. Of course there’s been a problem all the way through, that I don’t think there’s any secret in that.

QUESTION: But aid is going through now, so are you going to move to block it?

MS. NULAND: The UN agencies have been doing a heroic job of trying to work with the government to get to as many areas as they need to. But that process is difficult. It is not always successful, as we’ve seen in Homs and Hama and other places. So it’s an ongoing effort and we will continue to work with UN agencies to ensure they have what they need