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Report finds sanctioned Syrians profit from UN contracts

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BEIRUT — The United Nations has procured tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in contracts with firms linked to Syrian government-backed people sanctioned for human rights abuses, in response to a report by two non-governmental teams.

Syria’s rebellion turned civil conflict that began in 2011 has killed lots of of 1000’s and displaced half the nation’s pre-war inhabitants of 23 million. Greater than 80% of Syrians now dwell in poverty, leaving a lot of the inhabitants depending on humanitarian help.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, with army help from Russia, Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has since been capable of reclaim a lot of the nation. However Syria continues to spiral from a crippling financial disaster. Just lately, a cholera outbreak that has contaminated some 20,000 folks, underscored the scope of the disaster.

A report analyzing the U.N.’s prime 100 suppliers in Syria in 2019 and 2020 by the non-profit Observatory of Political and Financial Networks and the non-governmental group Syrian Authorized Growth Program concluded that just about half of the procured contracts these two years have been with suppliers that have been concerned in human rights abuses or might have profited from them. The report was revealed on Tuesday.

Virtually 1 / 4 of contracts the U.N. procured these two years went to firms owned or partially owned by people sanctioned by the US, United Kingdom or European Union for human rights abuses, price a complete of round $68 million.

Amongst them is Fadi Saqr, who’s near Assad and heads the Nationwide Protection Forces in Damascus, a pro-government militia that notably executed dozens of blindfolded prisoners in 2013 and buried them in a mass grave close to the Syrian capital.

The U.N. advised The Related Press that they have been conscious of the report and can touch upon its findings quickly.

“U.N. businesses’ processes fall wanting full due diligence,” Eyad Hamid, a senior researcher on the Syrian Authorized Growth Program, advised the AP. “Additionally they depend on cross checking the authorized possession of an organization as an alternative of the final word beneficiary possession of the corporate.”

Advocacy teams have accused the Syrian authorities and associates of withholding or siphoning off help from households in opposition-held areas or manipulating trade charges to spice up state coffers.

“We perceive that help can’t be delivered in Syria cost-free. … The query to me is about how we are able to decrease that value,” Karam Shaar, Syria program supervisor on the Observatory of Political and Financial Networks advised the AP. “I believe it’s now well-established that the price of doing enterprise via the U.N. in regime-held Syria is by far the very best in comparison with help offered by different organizations in different managed areas.”

Shaar says that whereas help in some instances can solely be channeled via U.N. businesses, donor states must divert funding to worldwide NGOs that abide by unilateral sanctions, notably by the U.S. and Britain.

“Whereas the U.N. says they don’t abide by unilateral sanctions, NGOs are accountable to the international locations they’re primarily based in,” Shaar defined.

The AP final week revealed the outcomes of an investigation displaying that the U.N. World Well being Group’s Syria consultant in Damascus mismanaged hundreds of thousands of {dollars} and plied authorities officers with items, together with computer systems, gold cash and vehicles.

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