When governments obstruct charity work

We are confronting a horrible Syrian tragedy at a time when we neither short of money nor the ability to help

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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We cannot protect unarmed civilians from the crimes of government forces who are shelling neighborhoods using jets and heavy artillery in Syria. We cannot change the military balance on the ground or bring about foreign intervention. The Syrians’ cause, and their fate, is entirely in their own hands

However, we cannot say the same regarding the millions of Syrians who are facing the threat of death from hunger or cold weather. What is preventing us from providing them with food and blankets?

We are confronting a horrible tragedy at a time when we neither short of money nor the ability to help. We are also aware of what is happening to our people in Syria and what Syrian refugees are suffering from. We see children dying every day due to food shortages and the Alexa snowstorm.

So what is required to stop this humanitarian catastrophe? One million blankets? Ten million blankets? More tents? Food supplies? All this can be provided if the means to collect and transport them are made available. Such aid can be provided by people who desire to help but these people do not have the means to deliver their donations. Regional governments and certified Arab and international humanitarian organizations are to blame for this.

Political, security and non-governmental powers have energetically worked to curb organizations that exploit tragedies and catastrophes in order to collect donations and spend the money windfall on terrorist activities.

We are confronting a horrible tragedy at a time when we are not short of money and when we do not lack the ability to help

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Some corrupt organizations collected money for their own gain. Many of these suspicious organizations were shut down, however, some are still active and operate via social networking websites. They work for the interest of extremist and jihadist groups which operate under the slogan of jihad or aiding refugees.

We don’t want money or aid from governments. What we want from governments is that they let people display their generosity and participate in aiding refugees without being restrained. Millions of supporters and philanthropists, who are moved by the plight of millions of Syrians, desire to offer donations but do not have the means to do so. We therefore call on countries and serious, qualified organizations to allow transparent and direct donations to be made because the catastrophe is too grave to be left to bureaucratic solutions.

The truth is, preventing people from contributing to worthy causes to save their brothers’ lives is not less evil than stealing money allocated for the needy in order to either keep it for oneself or use it for extremist acts. If governments, like Kuwait’s and other regional countries, want to prevent suspicious operations in which money is collected as part of campaigns claiming to aid Syria’s refugees and fighters, then they must urge that charity work be done via certified channels - including international ones. Organizations with capacity and experience can cooperate with regional and local organizations to speed up work, save time and guarantee that aid is being received. The task is huge, the situation is dangerous and the people – both the needy and the philanthropists - are angry.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Dec. 15, 2013.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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