Exceeded one billion pounds; Syrian regime to seize donations of Daraa
Daraa – Halim Muhammad
Hours after the Syrian north was declared “stricken” by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, activists from Daraa governorate launched financial donation campaigns to help those affected in the region, prompting the Syrian regime to try to restrict those efforts.
Among the most prominent campaigns that were launched are the two campaigns, Faza’at Ahl Hauran Li Shamal al-Souri al-Muharrar (The People of Hauran to the Rescue of the Liberated North of Syria) and Esna’a Lahom Maaroufan (Do Them a Favor). The total donations from the two campaigns amounted to about 1 billion SYP (about 136,000 US dollars) to be distributed to the affected people in northern Syria.
Daraa-based activists participated in the two campaigns, as well as others residing in various countries of asylum.
Activist Habib Kasabra, one of Daraa residents supervising the two campaigns from Lebanon, told Enab Baladi that the campaign was in response to the appeals of the people of northern Syria.
In turn, one of the supervisors of the Faza’at Ahl Hauran campaign, Munif al-Zaim, stated that the scale of the destruction and the distressed families had prompted us to launch this campaign to alleviate the suffering of Daraa residents in northern Syria.
Al-Zaim added that the funds raised will be transferred to the Daraa Governorate Council in northern Syria, which it holds responsible for distributing it to the families affected by the earthquake.
The regime is meddling
After launching donation campaigns for northwestern Syria, the regime tried to meddle so that these campaigns would be under its supervision, enabling it to access the raised funds.
During a meeting between the Daraa Governor, Louay Kharita, officials from the Baath party, and directors in official departments with the notables of Daraa governorate on Wednesday, February 8, Baath officials asked notables to launch a campaign of donations and to build a tent in each town to raise donations for those affected by the earthquake in Syria.
According to a letter circulated on local social media pages addressed by the Central Bank branch in Daraa governorate to the said governor, the Central Bank agreed to open a financial account to collect donations in the name of “the Daraa governorate people initiative for those affected by the earthquake in various governorates.”
The Daraa Awqaf (Endowments) Directorate also asked mosque imams to urge the people to donate to those affected by the earthquake in Syria, according to Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Daraa.
Later, activists circulated on social media news of threats against Daraa dignitaries and anyone trying to collect donations to be sent outside regime-controlled areas.
The Ahrar Hauran Gathering said that regime officials threatened the dignitaries not to donate to opposition-held areas.
Meanwhile, three of Daraa’s notables, who declined to reveal their names for security reasons, confirmed to Enab Baladi that the regime had not specified the areas targeted by the donations.
What’s the aim?
The humanitarian activist and one of the supervisors of the donation campaigns, Munir Kaddah, told Enab Baladi that the regime was trying to prevent any aid from reaching areas whose residents are considered “terrorists.”
The regime recognizes that the people of Daraa are able to raise “enormous” funds in the presence of many well-off expatriates, which makes the Daraa donation campaigns an opportunity to steal.
For his part, a member of the Daraa Central Committee, Sheikh Faisal Abazid, said on Facebook that the Baath party seeks to revive itself as a “leader of the state” through the campaigns launched by the people of Daraa.
In the view of one of Daraa’s notables, who is unnamed for security reasons, regime-raised funds are unlikely to reach those affected, both in regime-held and opposition-controlled areas.
In a previous report entitled “Fund-raising initiatives in Daraa, Support for Services Exploited Politically,” Enab Baladi discussed the Syrian regime’s attempts to exploit donation campaigns in Daraa for its benefit.
The said report concluded that the regime had utilized and promoted these local initiatives as support for the government’s efforts to restore normal life to the areas it has controlled in southern Syria since 2018.
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