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Letter to President Obama - U.S. Must Help Expedite Delivery of Humanitarian Aid to Syrian People

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Following a meeting last week with Syrian opposition leaders, U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are urging President Obama to dramatically expedite delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, including the Syrian Opposition Council. In a letter to President Obama yesterday, the Senators called on the Administration to review the State Department's current assistance to the Council and bolster public support for the Council.

"At this critical juncture in history, when the Assad regime has killed over 60,000 Syrians, we are unified in our belief that the U.S. must do more to save innocent lives and bolster the strength of the opposition," the Senators wrote. They continued, "Based on our bipartisan congressional delegation meeting with Council leaders in Cairo, as well as meetings with regional leaders and Syrian refugees, we believe more firmly that the U.S. must redouble its support for the Syrian Opposition Council, so that the Council can visibly play a meaningful role in delivery of U.S. humanitarian aid to the Syrian people."

In addition to Ayotte and Gillibrand, the letter was signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Coons (D-DE), John McCain (R-AZ), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Last week, the Senators participated in a congressional delegation mission to Egypt and Jordan, where they met with leaders of the Syrian Opposition Council and Syrian refugees to discuss the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Syria.

TEXT OF SENATORS' LETTER TO PRESIDENT:

January 22, 2013

Dear Mr. President:

After traveling to the Middle East last week, we are convinced there are few issues as pressing as the escalating crisis in Syria. We must do more to deliver on promises to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people.

It is essential for the United States to dramatically increase its actual and demonstrated humanitarian support for the National Coalition for Syrian and Revolutionary Forces, or the Syrian Opposition Council. This support would increase the relevance of the Syrian Opposition Council in the eyes of the Syrian people--strengthening its efforts to create a unified Syrian opposition and lessening the humanitarian tragedy in Syria. At this critical juncture in history, when the Assad regime has killed over 60,000 Syrians, we are unified in our belief that the U.S. must do more to save innocent lives and bolster the strength of the opposition.

The United States has spent considerable time attempting to foster an inclusive and unified Syrian opposition. We commend your administration for engaging in active diplomacy in Doha, London, and Marrakech in recent months and for contributing to the establishment of the Syrian Opposition Council, as well as for recognizing the Council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in December. Now is the time to ensure we are fulfilling the commitments we made at these meetings.

Based on our bipartisan congressional delegation meeting with Council leaders in Cairo, as well as meetings with regional leaders and Syrian refugees, we believe more firmly that the U.S. must redouble its support for the Syrian Opposition Council, so that the Council can visibly play a meaningful role in delivery of U.S. humanitarian aid to the Syrian people. We appreciate your administration's dedication of resources over the past few months to develop the Council's capacity to deliver assistance to the Syrian people, consistent with U.S. interests. Having built an assistance component of the Council, we strongly believe that it is time to empower the Council to deliver humanitarian aid with sufficient vetting to ensure aid reaches the people of Syria.

We ask that you review the State Department's current assistance to the Syrian Opposition Council. The review should examine ways to quickly improve both the Council's capacity to receive and deliver U.S. humanitarian aid to the Syrian people and its ability to play a visible role in advising U.S. humanitarian assistance through other channels. We cannot allow bureaucratic inertia to stand in the way of providing needed aid to the Syrian people and saving lives.

We thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

U.S. Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE)

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)


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