"As Syria burns, Washington has begun a debate over the supply of humanitarian assistance to the millions displaced, injured or penniless from civil war," Morton Abramowitz, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a former ambassador to Turkey, writes in an opinion piece in The Atlantic. He summarizes differing arguments about whether humanitarian aid should be "provided for -- and even through -- the opposition to Bashar al-Assad," or whether "aid must flow freely to all in need." He continues, "The biggest humanitarian problem is not so much who controls the aid, but rather how much aid there is -- an amount which, as it turns out, is grossly insufficient." Abramowitz says the money recently pledged at a U.N. fundraising conference "is only good for the next six months," adding, "The U.S., simply, will have to provide far more than ... it has promised."
"[T]his is not an either/or situation," Abramowitz writes, stating that aid should go to both sides, "as long as we are reasonably confident that aid is going to those in need." He writes, "Certainly, humanitarian aid can have political consequences. But making political criteria the determinant of providing aid will immediately endanger many hundreds of thousands of people and will erode the basis of future humanitarianism," and he concludes, "The principle underlying humanitarian aid is a good American and international tradition. It should be preserved in Syria" (2/11).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.