The US is providing more than $800 million in new humanitarian aid to the Syrian people to continue helping those affected by the Syrian war, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced during a speech in Brussels at a conference in support of Syria.
“This war has been going on for ten years and ordinary Syrians are suffering. People are starving. Medical supplies are not coming through. The US is the largest humanitarian donor across the board. And this is a core value for the United States to support those in need, wherever they are,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN exclusively.
The new funding — the largest amount the US has ever donated at this Syria conference in Brussels — comes as Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis also continues to grow, with millions of refugees fleeing the country over the Russian invasion.
“Aid to Syria will in no way be affected by what we do in Ukraine. And this promise we’re making shows that,” said Thomas-Greenfield.
“This assistance demonstrates that, even as we work to address other conflicts around the world, the United States upholds our unwavering commitment to the Syrian people, their humanitarian needs, their call to accountability and their pursuit of freedom and dignity.” , said Thomas- That’s what Greenfield said at the conference in Brussels. She told CNN that aid to Syria would not be affected by continued US aid to Ukraine.
There are mounting concerns about keeping the Bab al-Hawa border crossing from Turkey to Syria open, the only border crossing now open for humanitarian aid. A UN Security Council resolution to keep it open for a year is set to expire in July. The topic of this border crossing will be the focus of the UN Security Council in the coming months.
Thomas-Greenfield on Tuesday called for that crossing to be kept open, given the life-saving support it makes possible. She also called for expanded access to Syria for humanitarian aid.
“This is a matter of life and death,” she said at the conference.
It is unclear whether Russia — which has opposed keeping border crossings to Syria open in the past — will support keeping the crossing open this time around.
“We think it’s in Russia’s interest to keep that border crossing open,” Thomas-Greenfield told CNN, “because otherwise millions of people will starve in Syria. And they’re inside and the Syrian regime is responsible too. border crossing provides essential medicines, food and water for Syrians not only at the border, but also deep within Syria.”
Thomas-Greenfield said the US has provided aid this year from Syria-controlled parts of Syria to other parts of the country, but reiterated that the border crossing must remain open.
“We also supported in our negotiations with the Russians last year that we would support cross-border humanitarian aid. Humanitarian aid from Syria-controlled parts of Syria to other parts of Syria. That has worked to some extent over the past year, but cannot replace cross-border aid,” she said.
As for Russia’s involvement in the war in Ukraine and the war in Syria, Thomas-Greenfield also said Moscow’s move to put “Butcher of Syria” Alexander Dvornikov in command of the Russian attack on Ukraine is another example. is of Russian cruelty. She added that the fact that he is still reportedly committing war crimes is “definitely something the world needs to address in the future”.
In recent weeks, Syria’s representative to the UN has been encouraging the world not to forget the country.
“The current strategic stalemate and the absence of Syria from the headlines should not lead anyone to think that the conflict needs less attention, fewer resources, or that a political solution is not urgent,” said UN envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen. He explained that because there are 6.8 million refugees and 6.2 million IDPs (internally displaced persons) as a result of the Syrian war – that is half of the pre-war population – there is an entire generation in Syria who are “born and grew up “on the move.”
The Biden administration has been criticized for not having a comprehensive Syria policy. During the Obama administration, US policy was that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should leave. But that’s not a line US officials are explicitly repeating today.
“Assad is in place, but we have been very, very clear that in order to have a political solution, there must be accountability. And Assad needs to take some responsibility — in fact, all responsibility for what is happening in Syria,” Thomas-Greenfield said when asked if there could be a political solution with Assad.
She did not praise the involvement of some regional players – such as the UAE and Jordan – with Assad in recent months.
“We do not think that the time is right now to normalize relations with Assad. There are still critical issues that need to be addressed before standardization takes place. But again, we wholeheartedly support the efforts to find a political solution,” she said.
However, she points out the importance of regional players in finding a solution for Syria.
“In all these situations, including Ukraine, the regional neighbors are important and so in Syria how the neighbors deal with them is critical to how quickly we can make some progress there,” she said.