The Syrian Opposition Coalition’s (SOC) political committee on Monday held an emergency teleconference following the briefing that the UN special envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, gave to the UN Security Council. In addition to calling for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria to allow efforts to confront the coronavirus pandemic, Pedersen announced the agenda of the next round of the work of the Constitutional Committee.
The meeting, which was chaired by the SOC’s President Anas Abdah, brought together Head of the Syrian Interim Government, Abdurrahman Mustafa, Head of the Syrian Negotiations Commission, Nasr al-Hariri, Co-chair of the Constitutional Committee Hadi al-Bahra, and SOC members in the Syrian Negotiations Commission.
President Abdah offered his condolences to the families of Syrians who died from the coronavirus everywhere in the world, wishing those who caught the disease a speedy recovery. He thanked SIG institutions and workers as well as other institutions and organizations working to ensure the safety of citizens and to prevent the spread of the virus in the liberated areas.
President Abdah pointed out that the Assad regime still denies the outbreak of the coronavirus in the areas under its control and refuses to disclose the real numbers of cases. He warned that this denial will have catastrophic consequences.
For his part, SIG’s head talked about the latest developments in the measures being taken to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus in the liberated areas. He said that all the suspected cases in the areas managed by SIG tested negative for the virus.
Regarding the UN envoy’s latest briefing, the conferees reaffirmed their support for a ceasefire in Syria to allow efforts to stem the coronavirus pandemic and the revival of the political process. They expressed their approval of the agenda the UN envoy presented for the next round of the work of the Constitutional Committee. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
Coordinator of the Syrian Opposition Coalition’s Office in rural Aleppo, Ahmed Al-Shehadi, met with head of the local council in the town of Marea, Fouad Abbas, and discussed with him the measures taken by the council to prevent the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The two sides discussed the status of public facilities and services institutions in the town, especially preparations being made by the Marea Hospital and other health facilities for any possible emergencies in the coming days.
Al-Shehadi was briefed on the measures taken by the council to prevent the spread of the virus, such as sterilization of public markets, streets, and public institutions, and pursue social distancing.
The two parties stressed the importance of observing the instructions being issued by the Ministry of Health and continuing the launch of awareness-raising campaigns to spare the country this danger that threatens the world. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
The Syrian Opposition Coalition’s political committee held its periodic meeting as it slammed the delay of the World Health Organization and donors in providing support to the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) and in providing it with the necessary equipment to take the necessary preventive measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus which has become a threat to the entire world.
The meeting was chaired by the SOC President, Anas Abdah, and attended by SIG’s Head, Abdurrahman Mustafa. Minister of Health, Maram al-Sheikh, Director of the Directorate of Health in Aleppo, Abd al-Basit Ibrahim, and coordinators of SIG’s offices and departments and ministers participated in the meeting via a video link.
Minister of Health gave a briefing on the health situation in the liberated areas and the results of the tests conducted on the suspected cases. He pointed out that all the results were negative, stressing the importance of transparency with regards to the cases of infection, contrary to the Assad regime's covering up of the actual number of cases.
Al-Sheikh explained that the ministry set up three isolation units and 28 community isolation units in Idlib. The ministry also began sterilizing markets and isolation units as well as launched awareness raising campaigns on social media across the liberated areas.
Participants in the meeting stressed the need to address the coronavirus threat and prevent an outbreak of the pandemic among the Syrian people who have been devastated by the crimes of the Assad regime, Russia and Iran over the past nine years.
Participants also stressed the importance of communicating with the United Nations, friendly countries and international organizations to urge support for SIG in taking the necessary preventive measures to prevent the spread of the virus, especially in light of the difficult conditions facing civilians living in tightly-packed camps and the lack of places suitable for isolation and social separation in addition to the major shortage of medical facilities after most of them were destroyed.
Members of the committee praised the efforts of SIG, the Ministry of Health, the Assistance Coordination Unit to take the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. They recommended the launch of an awareness raising campaign in the IDP camps and the liberated areas in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Participants also stressed the need for coordination among all agencies working in the health sector to unify efforts.
Participants discussed several proposals to create an information system that ensures rapid access to information and its developments with the aim of increasing coordination and studying the possibility of online education for students at all ages in the liberated areas.
The political committee called on the United Nations and international organizations to exert pressure on the Assad regime to allow access to the detainees and ascertain their conditions to prevent the spread of the virus among detainees and provide the necessary medical care, and work to ensure their immediate release. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC), Anas Abdah, sent a letter to Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization to highlight the health situation in Syria, especially the danger threatening the liberated areas. He stressed the need to expedite the implementation of the plan already agreed upon with the Syrian Interim Government to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus in Syria.
President Abdah warned that any further delay in the implementation of the plan will lead to a major disaster. He called on the organization to assume its responsibilities and provide the agreed upon aid that is needed to take precautions and measures to prevent the spread of the deadly pandemic.
He pointed out that the situation in Syria, especially in the north, is different from the rest of the world in view of the large number of the internally displaced people living in the region, the lack of places suitable for isolation, and the destruction of the majority of healthcare facilities during the onslaught the Russian and Assad regime forces have launched in the region in recent months.
“The Syrian regime continues to cover up cases of the coronavirus in Syria,” President Abdah said, adding that based on the number of cases in the region and given the fact that the regime opened Syria’s borders wide for militias and others coming from neighboring countries, it is impossible to believe there is only one coronavirus case in Syria.
“The risks of the pandemic are not limited to civilians in the regime-held areas as tens of thousands of detainees in the regime’s prisons and detention centers represent a very vulnerable group. There is plethora of evidence that point to the practices of the Syrian regime with regards to the detainees, the least of which are denying them the necessary food and medical care.”
He also called for pressuring the regime to allow complete access to detention centers and elsewhere to be able to closely monitor the spread of the pandemic and provide the necessary medical care. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
As part of the precautionary measures and plans to confront the coronavirus pandemic the Syrian Opposition Coalition is carrying out in partnership with the Syrian Interim Government and other executive arms, the Faculty of Human Medicine at the Free University of Aleppo on Thursday held a training course for its students on ways to prevent the spread of the virus in northwestern Syria.
The training course, which was attended by Coordinator of the SOC’s Office in Syria, Ahmad Al-Shehadi, was supervised by the dean of the faculty of medicine, Jawad Abu Hatab, and a number of doctors. Extra precautions were taken to ensure the safety of participants.
The course aims to prepare a team of students of the fourth, fifth and sixth year to carry out an awareness raising campaign about the danger of an outbreak of the coronavirus in the IDP camps and the rest of the liberated areas. It also aims to carry out field and statistical researches on the living conditions of civilians and study their ability to take the necessary preventive measures.
The Assistance Coordination Unit, provincial councils, medical organizations, the Free Police Force and the Syrian National Army are preparing to participate in the campaign. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC), Anas Abdah, sent a letter to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, to urge swift action for the detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime. He warned of the danger of an outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in light of the inhumane conditions in those prisons.
President Abdah pointed out that tens of thousands of detainees in the regime’s custody are going through unspeakable suffering, warning of the spread of the coronavirus in the regime’s detention facilities.
“If the pandemic finds its way into these overcrowded facilities – if it has not already – we will be facing a catastrophe that the regime might exploit to get rid of the detainees, but which also will have global repercussions,” President Abdah said.
He went on to say that the Assad regime “continues to cover up cases of the coronavirus in Syria, having until now admitted to only one case. However, based on the numbers in the region and given the fact that the regime opened Syria’s borders wide for militias … it is impossible to believe there is only one coronavirus case in Syria.”
President Abdah called on the ICRC to use all the means at its disposal to get immediate and full access to detention centers in order to ascertain the conditions of detainees.
He also called for pressing for saving the lives of tens of thousands of detainees and ensure their immediate release.
Moreover, President Abdah called for pressing the Assad regime, through the UN and governments, to have complete access to detention sites and elsewhere to be able to closely monitor the spread of the pandemic and provide the necessary medical care. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
The Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) welcomed the latest calls made by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and the UN special envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, for a ceasefire in Syria, describing such calls as a step in the right direction.
In a press release issued on Wednesday, the SOC said that these calls corresponded with its repeated calls for commitment and respect for international resolutions and agreements calling for an end the killing and bombardment as well as and giving an opportunity for a political solution.
The SOC said that the remarks of the UN envoy on the situation in Syria, however, did not refer to the party responsible for the dire situation in the country, the destruction of its infrastructure, the targeting of healthcare facilities, and the displacement of more than half of Syria’s population.
“The UN envoy did not mention the party responsible for the arrest and torture of hundreds of thousands of Syrians and exposing their lives to various threats, the latest of which is the coronavirus pandemic.”
The SOC underscored that the UN envoy’s remarks “referred to the crime but did not mention the perpetrator. We had hoped the UN envoy would have explicitly referred to the party responsible for this situation.”
“The regime's continued detention of more than 250,000 Syrians and exposing them to the risk of infection amounts to a genocide that is taking place in daylight and which must stop immediately through the unconditional release of the detainees.”
The SOC went on: “Addressing the current reality in Syria, ensuring the safety of the Syrian people, imposing strict measures to stem the pandemic spread, and ensuring the safety of the detainees and their release are necessary steps that require an effective plan that needs to be backed by serious international will, especially as the consequences of the failure to prevent the pandemic outbreak in Syria will put our people and the whole world at serious risk.”
The SOC added that it is working, through its executive arms, at full capacity and with all seriousness to participate in the global campaign to stem the pandemic spread. It is assuming its responsibilities in this regard towards the Syrian people and the people of the world as a whole.
“We stress that the risk facing Syria requires the provision of real support for the Syrian Interim Government (SIG). We warn of the danger of any further delay in the World Health Organization's fulfillment of the pledges it made in accordance with the plan agreed upon with SIG. We demand the immediate delivery of the aid spelled out in the plan.” (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
The Syrian Negotiations Commission denounced the Assad regime’s submission of an agenda for a new round of talks by the Constitutional Committee to the UN special envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen. It described the regime’s move as ‘cynical’ as it came at a time when all world countries are closing their borders and airports for fear of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a press release issued on Monday, the Commission said that the Assad regime asked the international envoy to prepare a new round of talks by the Constitutional Committee in Geneva next week. It pointed out that the regime pretends it is willing to engage in the political process after it desperately sought to evade and disrupt this process.
The Commission pointed out that the Assad regime had previously rejected six proposals that the Commission submitted and which were consistent with the mandate and powers of the Committee. It added that the regime still sets preconditions before entering into any talks on the constitution by insisting on an agenda that is not consistent with the Committee’s mandate and procedural rules governing the work of the Committee.
The Commission called on the United Nations and the international community to take the necessary measures towards the health situation in Syria and help prevent the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, ensure the release of detainees, and dispatch teams to ascertain the conditions inside the regime's prisons.
Furthermore, it called on the United Nations and the UN envoy to put an end to the regime that is manipulating the fate of Syria and the Syrian people. It also called for forcing Russia, as the protector and guarantor of the regime, to honor its commitments and hold it responsible for covering up the regime’s tampering with the lives and fate of the Syrian people. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
As part of the campaign the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) has launched in partnership with the Syrian Interim Government and its executive arms in the liberated areas, Coordinator of the Department of Foreign Relations, Abdulhahad Astepho, sent a letter to the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the SOC’s demands from the European Council. The Council will meet today, Monday, with the meeting bringing together foreign ministers of European Union at a teleconference.
Astepho gave an overview of the health and humanitarian situation in Syria, especially in the liberated areas which is going through a humanitarian disaster as a result of the recent onslaught by Russia and the Assad regime which has led to the largest displacement movement since 2011. He also outlined the measures taken by the Syrian Interim Government to confront the coronavirus pandemic.
Astepho said that the risk of the coronavirus outbreak in the liberated areas makes it imperative that the international community and the European Union take swift action to address the dangers facing civilians. He said that the destruction of residential homes forced millions of civilians to live in overcrowded camps or in the open, which makes the isolation process almost impossible.
Moreover, Astepho pointed out that the necessary means to prevent the spread of the pandemic are scarce or almost non-existent after Russia and the Assad regime have destroyed the majority of the medical centers and after donors stopped supporting the medical sector in Idlib province.
The detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime are at the same risk, as the pandemic does not pose a threat to civilians only, Astepho said. He added that the Assad regime's brutality against detainees risk spreading the pandemic among the detainees, especially that the prisons are overcrowded with the detainees.
The letter touched on the political process, as Astepho stressed the need to work for the advancement of a political solution in accordance with the UN resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communique of 2012. He warned that the continued inaction in finding a solution will lead to more crises that may affect the European Union countries themselves, citing the latest wave of asylum seekers at the Greek border. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
Coordinator of the National Commission for the Defense of the Detainees and Missing Persons, Yasser Al-Farhan, said that the latest decree the Assad regime issued regarding the detainees “is similar to the previous ones.” He emphasized that the regime continues “with the selectivity of the crimes covered by these decrees, the restrictions with exceptions that narrow its enforcement and subject it to politicization, and to the judiciary’s assessment which is mostly subject to the dictates of the security apparatuses."
Al-Farhan pointed out that the Assad regime is resorting to conceit as it is trying to respond to the demands of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) to release the detainees in order to avert the danger of an outbreak of the coronavirus among detainees.
The reasons behind issuing these decrees are the selection of specific convicts for amnesty and the selection of specific criminal offenses to release the perpetrators, Al-Farhan added.
He went on to say that the Assad regime is trying to mobilize the armed forces by returning army deserters and subjecting the convicts to recruitment and reserve military service by selecting deserters to include loyalist deserters for reasons related to the length of service, its difficulties and risks, without including defectors for political, ethical, functional and national reasons.
Al-Farhan pointed out that the decree will allow the regime to generate revenues through judicial fees and amounts due, in addition to allowing the loyalists to earn money through brokering and bribery.
Moreover, he pointed out that the regime is trying to send messages to the international community that it pays attention on the refugee crisis and to suggest that it can play a vital role in their return, as well as pressuring the refugees and intimidating them into not returning.
Al-Farhan said that the Assad regime wants to use the amnesty decree to claim that it is working to create the safe environment needed for elections and reconstruction. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)