tv Humanitarian Aid to Syria CSPAN March 31, 2015 10:13am-10:56am EDT
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after recognizing myself, as soon as they come for five minutes each for our opening statement i will then recognize any other members seeking recognition for one minute. we will then hear from our witnesses and without objection the witnesses' prepared statements will be made a part of the record and members may have five days in which to insert statements and questions for the record, subject to the length, limitation in the rules. before i begin my opening remarks i want to take a moment
to offer our most sincere condolences to the friends and family of kayla mueller. our thoughts and prayers are with them in the most trying of times. kayla was taken hostage while doing humanitarian work in syria, which is the subject of our hearing. helping those who -- who are in such dire need of her help and all of america mourns her loss, and the family's loss. the terrorists have proven time and again, that they have no respect for human rights, that is why we must redouble our efforts to defeat this scurge. and its ideology. kayla's legacy will be the work she had done to alleviate the suffering to a countless many in syria and around the world. it's important that our government will continue to respond to this humanitarian crisis, but also that we will make the respect for human rights across the globe a priority and not just an after thought. and with that, the chair now
recognizes herself for five minutes. next month will mark the fourth anniversary since the start of the syrian conflict, there are no signs that the crisis will abate any time soon. assad has demonstrated no remorse, and indeed his intransigence has only hardened as he maintains his grasp on power, and the enclaves of syria, thanks to the support from iran,xd and the united nations' unwillingness to engage both isil and assad in a comprehensive strategy. isil and other terror groups have managed to wrest control of other large areas of syria and they, too, have no intention oflp givy/fe r have claimed. since president obama announced strikes against syria last t %i"m# september, isil has gained more territory, and that leaves little territory for those syrians who wish to flee the fighting and violence. while we are seeing unfold --
what we're seeing unfold in syria is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the region in recent memory. and it isn't just limited to syria and iraq. jordan and other neighboring countries have been forced to bear the brunt of a massive influx of refugees fleeing the e t)ur'pé nd that's tested the limits of their already strained capabilities. last congress, the ranking member ted deutch and i convened four hearings on the humanitarian situation in syria. one we were pleased to join with congressman smith, and congresswoman bass' subcommittee in an effort to continue to shine a light on this aspect of the conflict that gets ignored. when we held our first subcommittee hearing on the situation in syria 80,000 syrians had been killed, and 1.5 million people had been displaced. less than two years later, those numbers have swelled, over ó[ ehwkexz(4e=t7f÷6
200,000 have been killed. more than 3 millione1 have fled. and now more than half of syria's population is in dire need of humanitarian assistance. the u.s. has been the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in response to the crisis, providing much needed aid to syria, iraq, jordan and other countries that have bng severely impacted by this crisis. we spent over $3 billion since the start of the conflict and the president's budget request released last week, is seeking an additional b.$1.6 billion to address the humanitarian needs in syria and in iraq. while some of this goes directly to the neighboring countries that host refugees and directly to the ngos, the vast majority of our funding for syria supports multilateral initiatives through the united nations. i worry that some of the assistance that we provide that goes through the u.n. and its implementing partners might get diverted to isil or other
terrorist groups or the assad regime by force or through bribes in to certain areas. while i understand there are food program, and they're tagged with the islamic state symbol. so there are some very real and pressing problems that need to be corrected. congress and the administration, we have a responsibility to the american public to be good stewards of their tax dollars.
so it is imperative that we find the right balance of efficiency and transparency. our comprehensive strategy toward syria must take into effect the humanitarian crisis that we are confronting today. that's why it's so important, it's imperative that we hold these hearings, not only to hear from the vital work that we are doing, and the lives that we are saving, but also conduct our proper oversight role. it is also why i was joined this week by ranking member deutch mr. desantis and mr. connally in sending a request to the government accountability office, gao, requesting a report to ensure that our aid is reaching its intended recipients. and to get a better understanding regarding our visibility into the large sums of money that we send through the u.n. the syrian humanitarian crisis is not a problem, that is going away any time soon. not until we defeat isil and assad, and assad is removed from power. the u.s. cannot afford to
continue to provide billions indefinitely. it is imperative that we have confidence that what we are providing is not subject to waste, fraud abuse or diversion to terror groups so that we can continue playing a key role in responding to this crisis and maximize our effectiveness. and with that i'm proud to yield to the ranking member of our subcommittee mr. deutch. >> thank you, madam chairman. i too would like to associate myself with the chairman's remarks about the tragic death of kayla mueller at the hands of the barbaric isis terrorists. our thoughts and prayers go out to kayla's family and friends during this difficult time. please know that we will continue to honor kayla's memory and her life's work by giving this humanitarian crisis the attention that it deserves. i want to thank the chairman for starting this congress with the hearing specifically focused on the humanitarian aspect of the syrian conflict a follow-up to four humanitarian focused hearings that we held last congress.
the title of this hearing speaks volumes to the situation inside syria and in neighboring countries. there is no end in sight. members had the opportunity to discuss the political and security components of this conflict in the full foreign affairs committee this morning. this afternoon, we are here to focus on the growing humanitarian crisis, there are now 12.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. as mr. staal's testimony notes, that is the populations of new york city and los angeles. the two largest cities in the united states combined. there are 3.8 million refugees in neighboring countries. there are 241,000 people in besieged areas inside syria, there are 9.8 million people who are food insecure. chairman, these numbers are truly staggering. the situation inside syria has complicated the ability of humanitarian organizations to effectively deliver aid. despite the first authorization of cross-border aid deliveries
in united nations security council resolution 2165, it is becoming(5÷ok(aí)-2cgmñcvmincreasingly difficult to get aid ,safely into the country, and to its intended recipients. deputy aant secretary clements i effectiveness of cross border and cross line aid.p, we continue to engage in a political process that has yet to yield a sustainable truce
humanitarian assistance. we are the largest individual dpoener. i offer my full support of continued humanitarian funding for this crisis. i want to make sure our aid is effective and not falling into the wrong hands. i was troubled by reports that showed isis fighters handing out food packages, that's why i joined with chairman ros-lehtinen and congressman connally and desantis in commissioning a gao report so we can be sure the proper mechanisms are in place to spend our aid dollars most effectively. i've got to say i've been shocked and truly dismayed throughout this crisis at the lack of financial support coming from the international community. last year, only half of the u.n. budget was funded. these unfulfilled pledges of assistance led to the world food program literally having to stop its operations while an emergency fund-raising campaign took place. this is unacceptable. i recognize that most of us were unprepared to deal with a
protracted crisis. after four years, we are at risk of losing an entire generation. 5.6 million children have been affected. we've seen the outbreak of formerly eradicated diseases like polio simply because infants and children couldn't get vaccinations. refugee children have been absorbed into unfamiliar school systems many of which didn't have the staff or resources necessary to shoulder these additional students. many have been forced to abandon school altogether and find work to help support their families. women and children have borne the brunt of this humanitarian crisis. i hope mr. staal can address some of the programs we're funding aimed at protecting these vulnerable populations. before i close, i want to remind everyone of one critical factor. despite the horrific brutality of isis and its devastating attacks in syria and iraq, and against american and other western citizens. it's still the ruthless assad
regime that remains the biggest threat to the syrian people. we may share a common enemy in isis, but we are not partners with this deadly regime that has the blood of hundreds of thousands of its own people on its hands. finally, i want to commend the work of state and usaid. this is a tremendous challenge. and we recognize the work you do is not easy. and the work of your partners on the ground who risk their lives to help those in need deserves to be recognized in this body and in capitals around the world every day. i thank our wit vss for being here. >> very good. thank you mr. deutch. and i'm so pleased to yield to the subcommittee chairman, chairman smith, who has made it his life's mission to fight human rights violations and to spearhead humanitarian missions. >> thank you so very much. it's an honor and a privilege to join you. for both of our subcommittees to be receiving this testimony and
really broadcasting to all who will hear our solidarity with the victims. those men, women and children who are being savagely beaten and raped and killed and tortured by assad and other players and actors in syria. thank you again for pulling us together for this hearing. since the beginning of the syrian conflict in 2011, the u.n. estimates that more than 200,000 have been killed. it would be terrible enough if we could count the dead in syria as collateral damage in the civil war gone completely out of control, unfortunately, the truth is far more horrific than that. according to the u.n., the government of bashar al assad initiated the conflict to crush the opposition to his brutal rule. and in the process, he has used chemical weapons, barrel bombs, and other weapons of mass destruction to kill his own people. this regime has been involved in widespread killings, including children, torture again, against children, as well as
hospital patients arbitrary arrests and imprisonment on a massive scale. deployment of tanks and helicopter gunships in densely populated areas. heavy and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas. systematic destruction of food and looting. systematic desnieal of food and water and prevention of medical treatment, including children. so depraved has the assad regime been that it's been reported to have indiscriminately shelled bakeries with artillery rounds even though the targets were civilian, and not military targets. a british volunteer surgeon in syria reported in 2013 that victims of government snipers would display wounds in a particular area of the body on particular days, indicating that they may have been targeted in a gruesome game. the syrian government came to these doctors and nurses as collaborators because they were
willing to help rebels in need of medical care. early on in the conflict the assad regime imprisoned hundreds of health workers and tortured many of them to death. others have just disappeared. government forces targeted health workers and medical facilities in the attacks, erasing the universal principle of medical neutrality, the government isn't the only perpetrator of human rights violations in syria. u.n. reports that armed opposition groups including militia supporting the assad regime have been responsible for unlawful indiscriminate killing torture and abuse, including hostage taking. one rebel commander told the associated press that his group had released prisoners in bomb rigged cars, turning them into unwitting suicide bombers, other groups have perpetrated crimes too egregious to present today in detail. in addition to armed groups such as the free syrian army and the syrian revolutionary's front al qaeda, and its off shoot
including al nusra front isis operate within this committee and its crimes against those unable to leave against syria. we know and this was in the testimony by the deputy assistant secretary clements. half of its prewar population in syria has been displaced. half of a country, gone, displaced. and that is almost without precedent, anywhere in the world. the euro mediterranean human rights network reported in late 2013 that at least 6,000 women have been reported being raped by one armed group or another. the genuine figure was likely much higher due to underreporting. in fact the international rescue committee reported two years ago that the primary reason for syrians to flee their country has been fear of rape. the various armed groups terrorizing people in syria operate with impunity. syria's not a party to the rome statute, the international criminal court has no jurisdiction over these human rights violators although there could be a referral if they were so inclined from the security
council. even if the icc could get involved, russia has already indicated its opposition to that kind of referral. that's why i introduced last year, and i will do it again soon, a resolution to create an independent tribunal. to begin the process of investigating human rights crimes in syria and bring the ofutzuáur(qg no fear of any kind of accountability. it will be a pattern we had in yugoslavia rwanda and of course the independent court in sierra leone. the tribunal wouldñc prosecute the perpetrators of mass atrocities war crimes and crimes against humanity, no matter who committed the crime. hopefully these individuals would be brought to justice. again, i want to thank you madam chair for doing this hearing to the with our subcommittees. >> thank you so much. a powerful statement. and because miss bass the ranking member of mr. smith's
committee is not here i would like to recognize miss frankel and mr. boyle to share those five minutes however way you'd like to divide them. miss frankel is recognized. >> thank you madam chair. i thank you and the ranking member for this hearing which i believe is very important. and i want to share your sentiments on our sorrow for the loss of kayla mueller. we have heard from the administration obviously in the past several months why we should train and arm syrian rebels. we now have a request for authorization, for the use of military force, so i am very pleased that you're here, it's a change of pace, let's put it that way. and this is what i'm particularly interested in. not only the type of humanitarian assistance and answering some of the questions about whether we are effectively getting it to those who are
suffering, but i'm also interested in your opinion as to the role that humanitarian assistance plays in the larger goal of defeating those forces like assad, like isil, that are causing the pain. and then what else i would be interested in, especially in light of what happened to kayla mueller is, how safe it is for our aid workers in delivering this humanitarian assistance. i thank you and i'll yield the rest of my time to mr. boyle. >> mr. boyle is recognized. >> thank you very much. and i have to say, being on the foreign affairs committee, and this subcommittee for the last six weeks, i keep waiting until we get to have hearings about good news. i suspect that we'll be waiting a very long time.
the scale of the human tragedy that has taken place in syria is unbelievable. now, over 12 million human beings, 12 million people who have been dislocated, this is creating enormous instability not just in syria, but northern iraq, and other nearby areas. i would just ask -- and i -- a lot of my comments were echoed earlier, so rather than being representative, i would just ask that when you are giving your statements, while this subject might be specifically about syria, this is part of a regional fight. part of a fight that has been going on for approximately 1,400 years, i would like you to talk about -- to the extent you're knowledgeable about it, the stability of the regime in jordan. because with being bordered by israel and what was going on last summer in gaza and the disruptions, to a lesser extent in the west bank.
and then, of course, what is going on a de facto shia sunni civil war and at the same time a war between those who believe in a very radical militant violent form of iz, and those who do not. with all of that going in the region, we have one little island of stability smack dab in the middle there, and i am deeply concerned -- you don't hear about this much, i am deeply concerned the syrian conflict if it were to spread to one of the few regiz7dn÷xdiñka[zmaadt(ñisáñie1vwmóóñizv÷w3e1 can actually count on as an s7÷dçóñ2matfcqetnd ally.d zk] rtáñryo]3r broaden it, andfxhv3tk8b5=4jmm+mtxlk about that a bit i thank the ranking member.$x-)bz(ç it's angósoøcc0s óá0jvm zuhp &hc% i've watched the human work thatr done forh÷ tpdhtd
>> it's an honor to have you.760÷ (ft('cb'cmatwtnmów3nq(ok t, :añwçóg >> thankáy8tcfáyo(hñokhtg6ó madam chairman for callingiosähdiq#úl:0,9o cf1 o hearing. dmj%ug!efjq1u$e átj1xdeñó[ past fourxdi]e1p,k95rkwiñiu yearsok (i]del7a."eçi spiralledqa5z73áo out of 7 ba.m0 !eie2zí@ñ] humanitarian crisis.ñi+5c6?÷g20 bìc% it was in august of 2012, the ]v 91v+qf9h,:?]c &íxl&w(vnearlyg 200,000 people have been 'ñ9é6$ senselessly killed over 3 t( vwmaujh n to ending this humanitarian jfl [w=jy.k9xlq=2ruxlbv tragedy.ñip, as this war continues, i believe÷[k,y>$-ñiv% this crisis will unfortunately s7nbú zr4v lebanon and turkey have h2÷siux[8 3r$ diminished, these countries are t(j@l5.ñió[vw7?ñáñit(d at their peak in terms of the !uí syfw#k÷z÷ t÷dqñ 1f ;cwn3zvr t7#7 rcc-$wmo1a=iq9ññryínnknñímaeqd at the same time unprecedented yms?"(syz to join isil and other extremist u÷ç groups which are e>ñr x)>cóí+mfái]q complicating and exacerbating jfb.d
>> prepared statements will be made a part of the record. >> chairman smith, and members of the committee for inviting us to this very important hearing on humanitarian assistance. for those imperiled and uprooted by the worst human made catastrophe of our time, i have submitted my full testimony for the record, and i'm grateful for the opportunity to update you and thank you for your leadership and to congress for its unwavering support. the syrian crisis has claimed nearly 200,000 lives forcibly displaced half of syria's prewar population of 24 million people. almost 4 million have fled to neighboring countries and many will remain in exile for years to come. the assad regime and extremist groups target innocent civilians, already suffering from food shortages, inadequate shelter and preventable
diseases. right now, 12.2 million people inside syria need urgent humanitarian aid and half of them are children. the humanitarian response has been the most expensive in modern history and the needs have outstripped available resources. although u.n. humanitarian appeals have grown exponentially the total amount pledged has plateaued. the 2014 appeals were just over half funded as you noted earlier. the united states remains the single largest donor and has contributed over 3 billion since the crisis began. in 2014, my bureau at the state department provided more than a third of all funding for the syrian humanitarian response. that $725 million is the largest single year contribution in our bureau's history. roughly half of all u.s. humanitarian aid has gone to conflict victims inside syria and half to refugees and communities hosting them. over the last six months, u.n. security council resolutions
2191, 2139 2165 enabled u.n. convoys to cross borders and battle lines and to reach millions of civilians andthat have been encircled, blockaded and under siege. in 2014, the u.n. refugee agency provided aid to more than one out of every three syrians in need, including 1 million people in difficult to reach areas. usaid feeds nearly half of all syrian refugees, roughly 2 million people and provides relief items, everything from cooking pots to shoes and blankets to insulated tents to help refugee families survive the winter. our programs aid survivors of gender based violence, elderly and disabled people. unaccompanied children, and others who need services and protection. and with u.s. support in 2014 the u.n. and its strong ngo partners were able to triple the number of syrian children enrolled in school. but vast needs remain.
half of syrian children are still not in school. last week tom staal and i saw thousands of them while visiting a camp in the iraqi kurdistan region. it is bursting at the seams with an official tally of 35,000. but far more are seeking services not available in overwhelmed host communities. heroic efforts are under way to educate, feed, shelter and clothe the displaced, but everything is in short supply. more than 8 in 10 syrian refugees live outside of camps, straining host communities across a region that was already economically fragile and politically volatile. syrian refugees are crowded into communities in turkey, lebanon, jordan, iraq and egypt. in lebanon one in four residents is now a refugee. in jordan, housing shortages have doubled rents. schools and hospitals are overcrowded. municipal services cannot keep up, tensions are rising, and beleaguered governments have responded by closing or tightly
managing borders. to ease these pressures, the department and usaid are coordinating humanitarian and development assistance and funding projects that provide important services, clean water sanitation education, and economic opportunities to both host communities and refugees. we have encouraged other donors to come forward, and many have been generous, including saudi arabia and kuwait. the united states is also accelerating resettlement of syrian refugees. we have received referrals from over 10,000 syrian refugees and expect to admit between 1,000 and 2,000 this fiscal year and many more in 2016 and beyond. thank you very much for your support and i welcome your questions. >> thank you very much, miss clements. mr. staal? >> chairman ros-lehtinen ranking member deutch, chairman smith, and members of the subcommittees, thank you for the opportunity -- okay. thank you for the opportunity to testify today and for
highlighting the needs of the syrian people, and the needs of the people in their neighborhood. for me it is especially important because i grew up in the area and have lived and worked there for many years. as deputy assistant secretary clements mentioned and many of you, the syrian crisis is the largest and most complex humanitarian emergency of our time. more than 2.2 million syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance. you mentioned new york and los angeles. it is also just about the entire population of the state of pennsylvania, another way to look at it. we continue to do everything possible to help those most in need. and our fy-16 request that you mentioned, the usaid piece of it $735 million for the syrian humanitarian response demonstrates that continued commitment. now four years into this conflict syrians see no end in sight to the violence.
isil's abuses, including the death of kayla mueller, you mentioned, have been layered on top of the assad regime's indiscriminate killings and barrel bombings. our partners are heroically working through all possible channels. often at considerable risk. to reach those in need, including in regime areas in opposition, and isil controlled areas of syria. for over three years we've provided emergency care to nearly 2 million patients at 300 u.s. supported health facilities. throughout the area. i saw some of those patients myself last week at a hospital in jordan. thanks to the aggressive vaccination campaign, by the way, the number of polio cases in syria is now down to zero. we have improved water and sanitation for 1.3 million syrians, preparing water networks, installing latrines and bathrooms in camps. these efforts have helped to prevent the spread of disease.
and for the third year we're working tirelessly to help the most vulnerable cope with winter. especially those who are living in makeshift homes and tents. so far we've distributed blankets, warm clothing, plastic sheeting, to almost half a million people. we've also distributed air heaters, and put up windows and doors to help insulate homes. and we know that women and children are the most impacted in this crisis. and so we also prioritize and integrate their protection into all of our humanitarian assistance efforts. as you mentioned, the united states is the largest donor and including the largest food donor to the crisis. providing more than 1.1 billion dollars worth of to date to feed more than 4.8 million people inside syria, and 1.7 million in the refugee -- in the neighboring countries. the food vouchers we provide to
syrian refugees so that they can buy locally have also injected about $1 billion into the economies of lebanon and jordan turkey, egypt, and iraq. in fact within jordan, it equals to about 0.7% of their gdp. and we have a robust system for monitoring our humanitarian assistance to ensure that it does, indeed get to the most -- most in need people for whom it is intended. we know that syria's neighbors are stretched beyond capacity. and that's why we're also helping working in host communities, in cooperation with our state department colleagues to build resilient systems so that can withstand the increased demand on services from the flow of refugees into their countries. in jordan, for instance we're working to conserve water. with a complex crisis fund resources we've built cyst earnisterns
to collect rain water. and provided no-interest loans so that families can install rainwater harvesting systems. these efforts have saved cubic meters of water equal to 5.5 million showers. in lebanon we're working to decrease tensions between host communities and refugees. following clashes recently between militants and lebanese armed forces in tripoli our partners worked with the community to rehabilitate the old city and involved young people to reduce the appeal to extremism. so we're doing everything we can, but important challenges remain. constrained access, insecurity including targeted attacks against humanitarian workers are a prime challenge. and as kelly mentioned, we're working with donors to try to jointly meet the overwhelming needs for resources. despite many challenges, we remain committed to saving lives. and to helping host communities recognizing this is a long-term crisis.
thank you for your support. thank you for this hearing. and again, i look forward to your questions. >> thank you. our members thank you for your service, your dedication, your hard work and responding to this serious humanitarian crisis unfolding before us. as you both have said the united states plays a critical role in the international response as the largest donor country having contributed more than $3 billion. but as i mentioned earlier, we also have a responsibility to ensure that we are being good stewards of u.s. taxpayer money and that these funds are being used to maximize efficacy and transparency transparency. how much of that $3 billion has gone directly to neighboring countries or directly to ngos in implementing partners on the ground, and how much has gone through multilateral initiatives through u.n. appeals? and i will ask you to respond. it seems that the majority of
our assistance from what i have read actually goes to the u.n. and third-party implementing partners. also while it was positive that the u.n. security council passed resolutions 2139 and 2165 calling upon all parties to allow delivery of humanitarian assistance and authorizing the u.n. to carry out relief delivery across these conflict lines, that's really a fanciful notion to think that the assad regime isil al nusra other belligerent actors are actually going to adhere to these resolutions. yet since those resolutions passed, the u.s. has been going into the war zones and the most difficult-to-reach areas of syria. how are these resolutions of full access being enforced? we've seen reports that isil and others have gotten some of this assistance or that implementing partners are a force to go through middlemen to get some
of -- to get to some of these most dangerous areas. do we have an idea of how much of our assistance is being co-opted by these belligerent actors or going through middlemen? what kind of visibility do we have? how can we ensure that the billions of dollars that we are providing are reaching the intended recipients and not falling into the wrong hands? and also, do we have any oversight over how these u.n. agencies operate? is there a transparency or reporting requirements for the agencies or implementing partners, or is it more of a case of, well, our responsibility ends once we hand the money over to the u.n.? and finally, what are the reporting requirements for the ngos directly funded by the u.s. government? do we have enough oversight mechanisms? are they sufficient? thank you. >> thank you chairman ross
lehtinen. that's a critical question, and i'm glad you brought it up because i think we actually have a good-news story there. it's always important that we -- that our aid gets to the right people. and we realize the challenges in this crisis. so we've actually uped the ante and increased our systems for overseeing that. so in addition to the regular quarterly and annual reports, we actually required now weekly reports from our partners. where they identify particular issues. and remember, in syria we're working with partners that are experienced, that worked in these kind of areas before and know how to work in these areas. and they're careful about taking risks, but they also understand the importance of oversight. so they've instituted multiple systems to ensure that oversight. they work through local partners
but ones that they know. they get their regular reports. but in addition to that because it's a relatively sophisticated society, syria was a middle-income country, really and people have cell phones and so on. so we actually have a system where when food is delivered, they can send a picture taken from the cell phone with the bar code so we know exactly where it went and when it arrived. >> well, thank you. let me interrupt you here a second. >> we have multiple systems like that going on. >> to safeguard. let me ask about majority of assistance. to go through the u.n. and third-party implementing partners or directly to the party? >> and thank you for that question, chairman. about 72% -- through a joint effort, really, in terms of collaboration. you know our number one humanitarian objective in this