Is Assad using UNHCR tents in his election campaign?
This screenshot from Syrian TV shows the tent, which is apparently made out of UNHCR tents. (Image courtesy of The Daily Star)
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A photo circulated online Wednesday appeared to show a pro-Bashar Assad election campaign tent built from UNCHR materials and possibly even tents.
A spokesperson for the U.N.’s refugee agency, Adrian Edwards said there was no way to ascertain whether the photo – a screen grab from a pro-regime television channel – was genuine.
“There is no way for UNHCR to confirm the authenticity of this photo,” Edwards said.
“However, even were this photo genuine, a sad reality of work in any war zone in which thousands and thousands of tons of aid is being provided to vast numbers of people over huge geographic areas, is that a small proportion can end up being put to uses for which it was never intended. It’s a risk we have to face in trying to get aid to huge numbers of people in desperate need.”
In March this year, 74 U.N. aid trucks crossed into Syria from Turkey, in the first such shipment across that border, but a Reuters report this week quoted humanitarian officials as saying the whereabouts of the aid remained unknown.
The U.N. has been heavily criticized for the limited amount of aid that has entered Syria. A rare unanimous Security Council decision in February passed Resolution 2130, demanding that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access across conflict lines and, most crucially, across borders.
The Syrian regime has refused the U.N. access, but lawyers have cautioned that the international body is misinterpreting the law, and should transport aid into Syria regardless of the government’s stance, as the regime is refusing access based on arbitrary reasons.
Assad is virtually guaranteed to win the June 3 presidential election, a vote that the opposition and its Western allies have labeled a farce.