'Friends of Syria' banks on pressure to get aid to Syria

By Jenny Lei Ravelo 24 February 2012

A league of more than 70 nations is meeting in Tunis on Friday (Feb. 24) to discuss their next plan of action against the “villain” that is Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Despite a multitude of sanctions and increasing international pressure, Assad’s crackdown on protesters continues. The United Nations estimates more than 5,000 have died since the uprising began nearly a year ago.

The meeting will be attended by world powers that form part of the “Friends of Syria” group, including the United States. There are three issues the United States hopes will be discussed: provision of humanitarian relief, increased pressure on Assad and a push for a democratic transition in the country.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said pressure on Assad is mounting and will continue to build as long as he remains steadfast in denying entry of humanitarian assistance to Syria.

“It’s a fluid situation. But if I were a betting person for the medium term and certainly the long term, I would be betting against Assad,” Clinton said.

Many have pledged assistance to victims of the unrest, but access has been difficult. Donors’ hopes of sending humanitarian support to Syrians were crushed after China and Russia vetoed the Arab League’s plan of tightening sanctions againt the Syrian government.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has already appealed to rebels and Syrian authorities to agree on a daily, two-hour ceasefire to allow aid distribution to victims of the violence.

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About the author

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Jenny Lei Ravelo@JennyLeiRavelo

Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex senior reporter based in Manila. Since 2011, she has covered a wide range of development and humanitarian aid issues, from leadership and policy changes at DfID to the logistical and security impediments faced by international and local aid responders in disaster-prone and conflict-affected countries in Africa and Asia. Her interests include global health and the analysis of aid challenges and trends in sub-Saharan Africa.

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