UN aid to Syria shoring up Assad regime
Despite EU sanctions, the UN has paid more than $13m to the Syrian government to boost farming and agriculture. It has also paid another $4m to the state-owned fuel supplier, which is equally sanctioned.
The WHO has spent over $5m to support Syria’s national blood bank, controlled by Assad’s defence department. The organisation has ″concrete concerns″ as to whether blood supplies reach those in need, or are directed to the military first.
Two UN agencies have partnered the Syria Trust charity, chaired by President Assad’s wife, Asma, spending a total of $8.5m.
Unicef has paid $267,933 to the Al-Bustan Association, owned and run by Rami Makhlouf, Syria’s wealthiest man. A friend and cousin of Assad, his charity has been linked to several pro-regime militia groups.
Makhlouf runs the mobile phone network Syriatel, to which the UN has also paid at least $700,000 in recent years. Regarded by sources as the country’s "poster boy for corruption", Makhlouf is also on the EU sanctions list.
Analysis of United Nations procurement documents show its agencies have done business with another 258 Syrian companies with potential links to Assad, paying sums as high as $54m.
The UN says that its relief work has already saved millions of lives and argues it has to work with the regime if it wants to operate in Syria. (The Guardian)
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