How the Assad Regime systematically diverts tens of millions in aid

Hall, N., Shaar, K. and Agha, M.
Publication language
Date published
20 Oct 2021
Development & humanitarian aid, Principles & ethics

Western governments, despite sanctioning Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, have become one of the regime’s largest sources of hard currency. Assad does not merely profit from the crisis he has created. He also has created a system that rewards him more the worse things get. It is time to change the incentives, change the system, and start thinking strategically about Syria’s future.

Aid diversion in Syria is an old story. The regime has long directed aid to areas it deems loyal and impeded aid to areas formerly held by the opposition. The Syrian regime also diverts food baskets to military units. One-fifth of children under five suffer from malnutrition, but when aid agencies ship in high-protein biscuits to save children’s lives, soldiers eat those biscuits with their tea, and the children starve.