Hard Times for Syrian Aid Workers

Turkish police blame Syrian aid workers for anti-government protests.

As reported by the Pakistan Daily times, July 6, Turkish police are blaming Syrian aid workers for the region’s unrest. During a police raid of two humanitarian aid missions in Syria, four foreigners were deported, witnesses said. Although Turkish officials denied the actions as being linked to current nationwide demonstrations, similar cases suggest otherwise.

Another Syrian humanitarian source told the Pakistan Daily Times of two separate cases in the city of Antakya. Near the border with Syria, police detained one Spanish, one German and two British aid workers and interrogated them. After their interrogation they too were deported, the source claims.

The same source tells of another case. June 26, A NGO staff member was forced off the road by unmarked police cars. After trying to run, the NGO staff member was caught and searched. After being detained and interrogated for hours they were transferred to a counter-terrorism unit. The next day, another NGO office undergoing registration was raided by 20 police officers. The police charges state that the office was suspicious of fomenting unrest, the source claims.

Incidence of environmental campaigns to save central Istanbul parks happening during the registration of many humanitarian offices have led Turkish officials to blame public unrest on humanitarian aid groups. As a result, unregistered humanitarian aid missions should stop working in Turkey, the source claims.

“With only six NGOs receiving working permits thus far, and so many others waiting in line”, it is unlikely that the foreign aid will be able to prosper any time soon, the source infers.

Requests for ‘Humanitarian Pause’

In addition to the deportation of Syrian aid workers and halting of NGO humanitarian progress in Turkey, there are suggestions of a wide spread humanitarian pause for all Syrian cross-border humanitarian workers.

In response to the increased number of deaths in Syria between March 2011, and April 2013, UN Humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos requested a ‘humanitarian pause’ for all aid workers in Syria to promote aid access and appropriate cross border operations.

Amos was quoted by RT.com as saying “The security, economic, political, social, development and humanitarian consequences of this crisis are extremely grave and its human impact immeasurable in terms of the long term trauma and emotional impact on this and future generations of Syrians”.

Halting the $3.1billion of aid to the estimated 6.8 million Syrians and bordering regions needing assistance would prevent any further negative consequences for workers, Amos suggested. RT.com reported Amos’ seriousness about temporary halt to aid and the importance of cross-border aid when “appropriate”.

Although, as reported by RT.com, the Syrian ambassador to the UN claims to be shouldering the responsibility and duty of its people, prevention of humanitarian safety and aid efforts creates yet a another road block for the thousands of Syrians needing assistance. As reported by RT.com, the Syrian government strongly opposes any international cross-border operations.

Like the Turkish government officials, Syria now has blocked Syrian humanitarian efforts.

– Danielle Doedens

Sources: RT, Daily Times
Photo: Idea Stream