The acute deterioration of the Syrian people’s living conditions in the opposition-held areas allowed a space for dozens of local and international relief organizations. Despite the limited support they present, they succeeded, for the past a few years, in offering aids to thousands of afflicted people, especially those in border areas.
The efforts of relief organizations did not apply to the areas under the Syrian regime, which consider them as working for “terrorist gangs,” placing the people working in these organizations on the lists of the prosecuted by security systems. This restricted relief work in the regime’s areas to the organizations affiliated with its establishments, which are under its direct supervision, to negatively impact the size of the aid distributed and the people who deserve it.
Assad’ forces’ control in Daraa governorate is limited to three major cities, housed by hundreds of thousands of displaced people. In these cities, the activities of relief organizations, according to the information that Enab Baladi managed to get, are limited to three major entities, “Syrian Arab Red Crescent,” “Birrr Society” Association and the “Syriac Orthodox Church.”
These three entities provide aids under the total supervision of the Syrian regime’s establishments.
The “Red Crescent”: The Mediator of Water and Electricity
The role of the “Red Crescent” in Daraa is no more limited to medical support, for, today, its teams are active in the fields of relief and awareness both, in addition to intermediary between the regime’s establishments and the opposition in relation to water and electricity. In addition to this, the teams implement limited projects in the opposition-held areas.
However, these efforts did not restrain the Daraa Governorate Council, an opposition affiliate, from issuing a statement, last March, warning those cooperating with the “Red Crescent” and the “Red Cross” that they will be “prosecuted legally and by the revolution” entities, justifying this by considering the cooperation as an attempt at “politicization” and rehabilitation of the regime after “it lost legitimacy on the ground”, according to the statement.
Due to this, the “Red Crescent” expanded its field of work only in the areas under the Syrian regime, while its official statistics refer to a massive relief effort in Daraa.
In the first quarter of 2018, 43417 relief baskets, 31981 flour bags, 2413 canned goods and 4731 hygiene baskets were distributed via its three centers in the cities of Daraa, al-Sanamayn and Izraa. All these aids are funded by the International Committee of the Red Cross, German Red Cross and the World Food Programme (WFP), according to what sources, active in the organization, have told Enab Baladi.
“Birrr Society” Association is the Oldest of Sources
In addition to the above-mentioned information, “Birr Society” Association represents the second source to offer aid to displaced people in Daraa; it is one of the oldest and ancient charitable associations in the governorate.
The Association was founded in 1959 by Shaikh Abdul Aziz Abazid, one of the prestigious figures in Daraa at the time. It seeks to support people with disabilities and those in need, depending for its funding on the governorate’s people and expatriates.
Today, the Association’s work is limited to the areas controlled by Assad’s forces, for it is located in the al-Mattar neighborhood in Daraa al-Mahtta. Monthly, it supervises the distribution of relief aids according to ledges and registered lists, which include evacuees, the displaced and people in need.
In addition to the “Red Crescent,” the World Food Program is one of this Association’s sources of funding, which role is restricted to making lists, studying them and distributing aid.
Christian Entities with Massive Funding
The “Syriac Orthodox Church” is the third and the largest entity in the field of relief inside the areas under Assad’s forces in Daraa. It entered the field after the break out of the Syrian revolution, without any previous registered similar action.
According to what informed sources have told Enab Baladi, the Church receives significant funding from Christian entities and committees in Europe, which turned it from a religious being into a mostly relief-related one.
The Church is located in a neighborhood to the north of the railway in Daraa al-Mahtta, performing its activities with more than a 100 employees and workers. They prepare lists with the names of people in need, conduct field visits and distribute relief, food and hygiene related aids. The massive funding it receives helped the Church offer various forms of aids.
After the first months following the declaration of the “de-escalation” agreement in Southern Syria, in August 2017, the Church initiated activities to restore dozens of the houses in the Sahari neighborhood, targeted the most by bombardment in the months that preceded the declaration of the agreement.
It also restored the reserve bakery in the al-Sabil neighborhood, knowing that it is affiliated to the regime’s governmental establishment. In addition to this, the Church enlarged its support in the medical field, to foster hundreds of surgeries and offer the treatment costs of the in-need patients. A few months ago, it launched a physical therapy center for the affected people.
Fundamentally, its activities focus on the neighborhoods of Daraa al-Mahatta and the city of Izraa, populated with a Christian majority.
Enab Baladi’s sources estimate the number of the people registered in the aid lists in the areas under Assad’s forces with more than 35 thousand families. However, the success of these organizations was never spared Assad’s military and security systems’ intervention.
The organizations, in the past a few years, failed to prevent Assad’s forces’ members and affiliates from receiving relief aids, just like the needy people, despite their knowledge that the offered aid will be sold in the markets, according the city’s activists.
Assad’s forces also compel these organizations to allocate lists, specifically for the parents of its dead and injured fighters and give them the priority in receiving aids at the expense of the reset of the citizens.