Syria: Air drops call is welcome, sieges must end now

In Arab Countries by CIHRS

As humanitarian and human rights organisations working to alleviate the plight of civilians affected by the crisis in Syria, we welcome efforts by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to pressure the Syrian government and non-state armed actors to lift the sieges across the country and ensure that civilians have unhindered access to humanitarian aid.

The ISSG’s call for the UN World Food Program to carry out a program of air drops and air bridges for all besieged areas – should humanitarian access continue to be denied from June 1st – is a step that could help alleviate hunger and human suffering. However, airdrops are complicated, inefficient, limited in their scope, and risk the diversion of aid. It is unconscionable that the warring parties’ continued refusal to allow aid to suffering civilians has necessitated using an option of last resort.

By some estimates, more than one million Syrians are affected by sieges across Syria. The ISSG’s priority should be to end all sieges and ensure full, sustained, and unimpeded humanitarian access across all priority sectors throughout the country, while ensuring that aid is not used as a bargaining chip for political negotiations.

As co-leads of the ISSG, Russia and the US must pursue all channels so that humanitarian access unconditionally reaches all people in need. If access is not granted by the government and other parties to the conflict, they must ensure that the best conditions possible are put in place for air drops and air bridges to take place so that aid gets to those who need it most.

Although air drops can provide some urgent short term relief, they cannot meet the needs of the Syrian people long term and they must not be a distraction from efforts to gain full and sustained access and the lifting of sieges. One-off deliveries by land or air are insufficient and unacceptable. The international community should settle for nothing less than sufficient and unfettered humanitarian access across all sectors throughout the country.

Now is the time for the ISSG to show the strength of its resolve. The lifting of the sieges is a test of the ISSG members’ commitment to save civilians from slow death and starvation. The ISSG members should no longer tolerate the war crimes that are taking place before their eyes. We call on them to redouble their efforts to bring their collective and bilateral influence to bear on the warring parties to ensure full, sustained and unimpeded access to populations in need.


  1. 11.11
  2. ABAAD-Resource Center for Gender Equality (ABAAD Lebanon)
  3. Al Kawakibi Organisation for Human Rights
  4. Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
  5. Arab Coalition for Sudan
  6. Association de Soutien aux Médias Libres (ASML)
  7. Basmeh and Zeitooneh
  8. Baytna Syria
  9. BINAA
  10. Blue Nile for Human Rights and Peace
  11. Bridge of Peace US
  12. Broederlijk Delen
  13. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  14. Coucil for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU)
  15. CCFD-Terre Solidaire
  16. Children Plus
  17. Civil Society Initiative Sudan
  18. Emissa
  19. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  20. Hand in Hand For Syria
  21. Help 4 Syria UK
  22. Hivos
  23. Human Rights and Democracy Media Center “SHASM” /Palestine
  24. Human Rights First Society Saudi Arabia
  25. Independent Doctors Association
  26. Islamic Relief
  27. Islamic Relief USA
  28. Just Foreign Policy
  29. Justice Africa Sudan
  30. Karam Foundation
  31. Local Development and Small Projects Support office
  32. Maram Foundation
  33. Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)
  34. medico international
  35. Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies
  36. No Peace Without Justice
  37. Nonviolence International
  38. Open Doors International
  39. PAX
  40. Pax Christi Flander
  41. Refugees International
  42. Relief & Reconciliation for Syria
  43. Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)
  44. SHAML Coalition
  45. Souria Houria
  46. STAND (Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities)
  47. Syria Charity
  48. Syria Relief
  49. Syria Relief and Development
  50. Syrian Network for Human Rights
  51. The Day After Association (TDA)
  52. The Syria Campaign (TSC)
  53. The Violation Documentation Center in Syria (VDC)
  54. Vision GRAM –International
  55. War Child UK
  56. Win Without War
  57. Women Now For Development

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