The United Nations has been accused of altering a key humanitarian aid plan for Syria after consulting with the Assad regime directly, most notably eliminating areas like Madaya altogether, which currently counts thousands of starving civilians.
Those closest to the UN’s counsel regarding the plan and prominent NGO’s in the region have argued that its pandering to the Assad regime allowed them to censor the text and specific actions.
A leaked copy of an original draft of the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan shows that a number of key changes were made to the final report after it was sent to the regime by the Damascus arm of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The proposal, which will form the basis of a $3.1 billion global aid appeal, was written in consultation with other UN teams and NGOs working in Syria, but the changes were made after it had been sent to the government by the Damascus office without consultation with the other authors. The edits include:
- The removal of all instances of the words “besieged” and “siege” in reference to areas where nearly half a million people in Syria are thought to be trapped.
- The redaction of any mention of a programme to remove landmines, unexploded bombs, and missiles.
- The removal of references to violations of international humanitarian law, such as aerial attacks on medical facilities and the targeting of civilian areas.
The revelations come just weeks after shocking reports emerged of children dying of starvation in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya, which UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called a “war crime”.