A boy in the Syrian town of Douma carries away blankets distributed by the United Nations and other relief organizations in July 2016. (Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)

HRW Says West Must Oversee Syria’s Reconstruction

Human Rights Watch said on Friday that western donors contributing humanitarian assistance or aid in the reconstruction of Syria following more than eight years of civil war must be in the “driver’s seat.” It noted in a new report that the Syrian government was limiting donor control, eliciting fears that assistance was being diverted solely to populations that had been loyal to the regime and withholding it from those areas where the rebellion was strongest. The Reuters news agency quoted HRW executive-director Kenneth Roth as saying the Assad regime was a “a master of manipulation when it comes to aid,” adding that Syria was now “begging the West for billions [of dollars] of new funds for reconstruction aid. So the problems that we have seen are going to recur in spades if there is not a serious effort to address them.” Roth added that most of the aid would indeed come from western countries and organizations because Russia and Iran, the Assad regime’s closest backers, were in no position financially to be big donors.

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