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Opinion Pieces Discuss Issues Surrounding Humanitarian Response To Syrian Conflict

Devex: Syria not just a humanitarian crisis, but a development one too
Paige Alexander, assistant administrator of the Bureau for the Middle East at USAID, and Thomas H. Staal, senior deputy assistant administrator at USAID

“…The U.S. government is leading the humanitarian response inside Syria — and even as we provide immediate, lifesaving humanitarian assistance, we are working to expand opportunities for adults to work and for youth to attend school. … The continuum from humanitarian relief programs to longer term development is crucially important … We are working to ensure that the humanitarian assistance we provide to Syrian refugees has benefits for the local economies in which they are living. … The crisis will soon enter its sixth year, and the need for lasting benefits beyond basic needs and essential services is paramount for any future rebuilding of Syria…” (2/11).

Foreign Policy: How Feeding Syrians Feeds the War
Brent Eng, independent analyst, and José Ciro Martínez, doctoral candidate in politics and Gates scholar at the University of Cambridge

“…The verdict is still out on USAID’s flour-to-bakeries program and other efforts like it. On the one hand, the availability of affordable bread in rebel territory reduces local dependence on the Syrian government and helps ensure that civilians do not flee to regime- or Islamic State-controlled parts of the country (or, importantly for Jordan and Turkey, to neighboring countries) to survive. In doing so, the program saves lives, alleviates suffering, and ensures a minimum level of social stability. On the other hand, without a well-defined, inclusive opposition group, it is unclear to whom civilian loyalties are being redirected. Although such forms of external assistance may be tactically astute in the short term, they will be politically meaningless if they do not come in the context of a cohesive strategy to end the Syrian conflict. By fostering a dangerous dependency on external assistance and further fragmenting the country’s welfare apparatus, they may even make the war and its aftermath worse…” (2/11).