CEO Neal Keny-Guyer documents human toll of Syria conflict and challenges for aid workers
WASHINGTON, DC – Political leaders must resolutely push for a durable peace in Syria in the face of mounting humanitarian challenges, urges Neal Keny-Guyer, chief executive officer of the global organization Mercy Corps Mercy Corps, at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing held as the conflict enters its seventh year.
Organizations including Mercy Corps are confronting increasing obstacles delivering lifesaving support to innocent civilians in conflict zones like Syria. Mercy Corps operates one of the largest humanitarian operations in Syria, reaching 2.6 million people last year alone, and tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece.
Keny-Guyer’s testimony to the Senate committee comes just weeks after Turkey, the world’s biggest host of refugees, suddenly revoked Mercy Corps’ permission to operate, disrupting the organization’s operations in Syria and effectively ending its programs supporting 100,000 Syrian refugees and Turkish children, women and men in Turkey.
Among the most vulnerable people are Syrian youth, frustrated, isolated and at risk of turning to violence in the face of protracted injustices, Keny-Guyer says.
“War tears down humanity in many different ways,” he says. “Instead of worrying about their schoolwork, millions of Syrian children and teenagers are terrified that they or their families might be killed … Although they are living in the darkest of hours, Mercy Corps sees immense possibility in Syrian youth. The young Syrians of today will build the Syria of tomorrow.”
Yet humanitarians alone cannot resolve the political forces that have enflamed the Syrian conflict and Congress must resolutely push for a lasting peace, Keny-Guyer says, while continuing strong financial support for lifesaving aid “to all innocent civilians in need, no matter who they are or where they have found safety.”
“We know that principled humanitarianism is directly connected to our deeply held American values about what is right and good in the world. Know that Mercy Corps stands firmly committed to alleviating the long, intense suffering of the millions of Syrians trapped in this great human catastrophe,” says Keny-Guyer.NR Mercy Corps Testifies to SFRC.15March2017.pdf