The risks of rebuilding Syria under Assad

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on June 29, 2019 - Duration: 02:31s

The risks of rebuilding Syria under Assad

Western donors must ensure that humanitarian aid and any future reconstruction assistance in Syria do not fuel repression or benefit "cronies" of President Bashar al-Assad, Human Rights Watch said on Friday.

Emily Wither reports.


The risks of rebuilding Syria under Assad

Much of Syria looks like this.

The country may be coming out the other end of its eight-year civil war, but it'll take decades to rebuild many of its towns and cities.

When it comes to reconstruction and aid, Human Rights Watch is raising a red flag.

They warn the divisions in the conflict will continue to play out in post-war Syria.

And urge Western donors to be in the driver's seat when it comes to delivering aid so it doesn't fuel repression or benefit "cronies" of President Bashar al-Assad (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, KEN ROTH, SAYING: "What we found is that the Syrian government really is a master of manipulation when it comes to aid.

It has used a variety of techniques to ensure that humanitarian aid goes not to the people who need it most but to people whom it deems as its loyalists.

And so, what you see over and over is that there may be a besieged area or an area that the government has just taken over, where there is particularly an acute need, but the aid doesn't get there because these people are deemed to be politically unsympathetic." In a new report released on Friday (June 28) the organization uses Eastern Ghouta as an example.

A suburb of the capital Damascus.

In Harasta they say there a fewer people in need than Douma - but it receives more humanitarian aid.

Why?

They claim it's because people returning to Harasta are coming from government-held areas so they get rewarded.

While Douma's residents have lived under the opposition so they are being punished.

The issue is if a humanitarian agency wants to help - they've got to play by government terms. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, KEN ROTH, SAYING: And they say if you don't do it this way, we'll kick you out and bring in somebody else, there is always somebody else available." Syrian authorities have denied diverting aid to government-held areas.

But Human Rights Watch says interviews with aid workers and experts, said that U.N.

And other aid agencies had been forced into complicity in selective distributions to access some areas.

There are also concerns for refugees going home.

The report warns that the government continues to arrest, torture and execute people who return.

It also says returnees face another big obstacle - accusing the Syrian government of seizing properties belonging to Syrians who fled.

For many Syrians whichever side they got caught on in the conflict could follow them for many years to come.

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