February 4, 2016

Letter from besieged Syrians to governments at the London Donors' Conference

"We know that the money you raise today in London is unlikely to reach us or alleviate the suffering in our besieged areas."

To David Cameron, Angela Merkel, Erna Solberg, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Gen Sec Ban Ki-moon and the other heads of governments meeting in London:

Thank you for coming together today to offer your support for the Syrian people inside and outside Syria. We hope the Syria Donors Conference 2016 will provide a boost to the humanitarian response to all Syrians. However, we are not optimistic.

As Syrian activists and humanitarians working in the besieged areas of Syria, we are witnessing a first-hand catastrophe that includes starvation, injury and death due to blockades and bombardment. We are doing the best we can to keep people alive with the little resources that we have, but we simply do not have the food, medicine or medical equipment to sustain our communities.

In our towns, parents are forced to make the heartbreaking choice of deciding which of their children will be fed on a particular day. We are watching children die of hunger and young and old alike dying from the most curable of diseases. With only very limited access to power, our doctors have to operate using torches and only the most primitive of tools. They are going for days without sleep in order to keep our field hospitals running. Our activists are being shot by snipers for trying to smuggle in blood bags.

We know that the money you raise today in London is unlikely to reach us or alleviate the suffering in our besieged areas. The UN, and its partners, have not been able to deliver the aid that we need. The UN humanitarian organisations have not been seen in our towns for months, sometimes even years. Nineteen more people have died of starvation in Madaya since the last UN convoys pulled out of the town on the 16th of January. It is an undeniable tragedy that the billions of dollars in aid you pledge today is not going to reach those that need it the most.

In order to really help the people in Syria we are calling on you to do the following:

1. Push the UN to deliver aid to break the sieges. Under three successive UN Security Council Resolutions the humanitarian organisations do not need the Syrian government’s consent in order to deliver aid, they merely need to inform the regime that they are making the deliveries. The UN must also speak out and stop under-reporting sieges in Syria. The Humanitarian Response Plan, which forms the basis of your donations today, does not mention besieged communities, including Madaya. We were outraged to learn that the Syrian government, which is responsible for 99% of the aid blockades, was able to exert editorial control over the HRP. This means much of the language was diluted and paragraphs erased 

2. If aid trucks are not able to pass, donor governments and the UN should conduct airdrops to starving towns.These airdrops should be coordinated with humanitarians on the ground who can administer this aid and make sure it reaches the people who need it most. Russia has been conducting airdrops into Deir Ezzor but, too often, it falls into the hands of the regime fighters and does not reach civilians.  

Millions of Syrians today are dependent on humanitarian aid. It is a painful position for us to be in; aid comes with its own indignities and compromises. Instead of being able to work and build better lives for our children, we are battling a daily struggle to survive. It is not a natural disaster that has forced us into this position of dependence but the brutal punishment of the Assad regime, after men and women took to town and city squares to demand their political rights.  These same towns and cities are now the scenes of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The drip-feed of humanitarian aid will only alleviate a tiny proportion of this suffering. We ask that you do everything in your power to protect ordinary Syrians from these war crimes. This would mean breaking the sieges, establishing no-fly zones so that civilian communities are protected from the bombing and and freeing detainees.

The suffering in Syria will continue until you decide to end it.


  1. Laila B, Women Now for Development – Douma
  2. Younes T, Douma Local Council – Douma
  3. Baraa N, Activist – Yarmouk Camp
  4. Abdullah H, Syrian Civil Defence (White Helmets) – Eastern Ghouta
  5. Mahmoud T, Relief activist – Talbeeseh, Homs
  6. Wael D, The Medical Office of Eastern Ghouta – Eastern Ghouta
  7. Nushan S, Ain Al Madina – Deir Ezzor
  8. Mahmoud S, The United Revolutionary Medical Office – Eastern Ghouta
  9. Sarmad A, Sound and Picture – Rural Homs
  10. Daher Z, Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations – Syria
  11. Ibraim F, Local Coordination Committee – Douma
  12. Amjad A, Activist – Daraya
  13. Mohammad S, Local Development and Small Projects Office – Douma
  14. Maher H, Assistance Coordination Unit – Deir Ezzor
  15. Fouad H, Civil and media activist – Syria
  16. Ghassan A, Jobar Local Council – Jobar
  17. Ahmad A, Daraya Local Council – Daraya
  18. Mohammad H, Civilian – Homs
  19. Nazeer F, Douma Local Council – Douma
  20. Karam A, Volunteer for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent – Deir Ezzor
  21. Huda K, Civilian – Douma
  22. Rafat, Women Now for Development – Douma
  23. Bassam B, People Demand Change – Deir Ezzor
  24. Ruda K, Field hospital doctoral – Rural Damascus
  25. Farah H, Civilian – Damascus
  26. Mahran A, Douma Local Council – Douma
  27. Manaf H, Syrian Gathering for Democracy – Douma
  28. Ali, Justice for Life – Deir Ezzor
  29. Sarah A, Humena – Syria
  30. Fady K, Activist – Douma
  31. Aous Almubarak, Local Development and Small Projects Office (LSDPS) – Saqba
  32. Tarek A, Ain Al Madina – Deir Ezzor
  33. Moataz, Civilian – Daraya
  34. Ammar S, Medical Commission for the South of the Capital – Southern Damascus
  35. Mohammad K, Sound and Picture – Deir Ezzor
  36. Karam A, DZ Graph – Deir Ezzor
  37. Zaki H, Justice for Life – Deir Ezzor
  38. Ahmad M, DZ Graph – Deir Ezzor
  39. Moaz N, Deir Ezzor Platform for Civil Society – Deir Ezzor
  40. Mohammad H, Sound and Picture – Deir Ezzor
  41. Khalil J, Civil activist – Deir Ezzor
  42. Moawiyah K, Violations Documentation Center – Deir Ezzor
  43. Mohammad H, Sound and Picture – Deir Ezzor
  44. Khalil G, Civil activist – Albukamal
  45. Abdulrahman, Civilian – Deir Ezzor
  46. Ahmad A, Freelance journalist – Deir Ezzor
  47. Enana, Damascus Centre for Human Rights Studies – Damascus
  48. Angela, Damascus Centre for Human Rights Studies – Damascus
  49. Malek F, Daraya Local Council – Daraya