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70 aid groups suspended cooperation with UN in Syria

70 aid groups suspended cooperation with UN in SyriaMore than 70 aid groups have suspended cooperation with the UN in Syria and have demanded an immediate and transparent investigation into its operations in the country because of concerns the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has gained “significant and substantial” influence over the relief effort, The Guardian reports.

The coalition, which includes some of Syria’s most widely known aid organisations, told the UN it intends to withdraw from the UN’s information-sharing programme in protest at the way some of its agencies are functioning within the country.

In a letter to the UN, the 73 groups made clear they could no longer tolerate the “manipulation of humanitarian relief efforts by the political interests of the Syrian government that deprives other Syrians in besieged areas from the services of those programmes”. The UN had awarded contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to people closely associated with Assad, including businessmen whose companies are under US and EU sanctions.

The non-governmental organisations informed the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) of their concerns at a meeting on Thursday afternoon in Gaziantep, Turkey.
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