Assad’s Brutal War to Blame for Syria’s Economic Situation and Humanitarian Crisis

Statement by Special Envoy for Syria Joel Rayburn

December 30, 2020

The United States categorically rejects the very basis of the statements on so-called “unilateral coercive measures” made by the Special Rapporteur.  The Special Rapporteur’s attempt to blame Syria’s economic crisis on U.S. sanctions is misguided and false. The blame for Syria’s economic situation and humanitarian crisis falls on Assad’s brutal war against the Syrian people, not on U.S. sanctions.

The United Nations’ own investigatory entities have documented this fact.  The UN has shown the world the substantial evidence that the Assad regime and its foreign enablers have dropped bombs impacting hospitals, schools, markets, and homes.  Furthermore, the regime continues to obstruct the UN from delivering humanitarian aid, as illustrated by the lack of services in Syria’s southwest, and its refusal to allow virtually any UN humanitarian aid to reach non-regime held areas.

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act and other targeted sanctions on the Assad regime and its supporters seek accountability for the regime’s atrocities and to cut off the resources Assad uses to fuel the conflict.  They do not target humanitarian-related trade, assistance, or activities. As such, these recent sanctions work to promote human rights in Syria.

Sanctions are a tool that can be used to promote human rights, not violate them, and our sanctions programs are generally not targeted at humanitarian assistance.  While the Assad regime blocks aid, the United States works with UN agencies and NGOs to ensure humanitarian support from the international community reach the Syrian people.   We have provided over $12 billion since the start of the crisis, including nearly $143 million to support response to the COVID-19 pandemic.