tv Syrian Doctors Describe Unspeakable Horrors in Civil War Call for Aid CSPAN March 18, 2017 11:58pm-1:46am EDT
, the insider-trading case against hedge fund manager stephen cohen and his firm sec capital. >> the two central characters at the heart of the story, they are these two former portfolio managers. he is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence, although his case is on appeal. mr. steinberg was convicted but his conviction was later overturned after an appeals court made a ruling that made it much harder to convict someone for insider trading. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern. >> a senate foreign relations committee hearing on the situation in syria.
three syrian doctors used pseudonyms and two of them covered their faces because of personal security concerns. this is one hour and 45 >> the m order. good morning, everyone. thank you for attending. today marks the sixth anver anniversa anniversary, using that word guardedly, of the syrian civil war causing the largest humanitarian crisis on the planet since world war ii. there are many, many issues regarding the conflict and today we are going to explore some of those. a few we will talk about is the food shortage in syria, and the substantial starvation and
deprivation that occurred there. turkey has revoked the permit for certain humanitarian ngo's to distribute food there. education is a big issue for everyone in the world. with six years of this war, there is an entire generation that is going to be deprived on the educational front. there is a number of issues regarding that and we are going to delve into all of those. with that, i would like to recognize our distinguished ranking member, senator cardin, for his comments. >> senator risch, thank you very much for stepping into the chair of this hearing. we should point out senator corker has commitments with president trump in tennessee and that is why he is not able to chair the hearing. i have talked to senator corker. i know his personal interests in regard to the humanitarian crisis in syria and i can assure everyone this committee will
work together to do everything we can to help in regards to humanitarian crisis that exists in syria today. as chairman risch pointed out, the war has been going on for six years. six long years. the country in many of its cities have been reduced to rubble. loved ones have been killed and wounded. sooen syrians are destitute. two thirds are in object property. i have heard it would cost as much as 25% of a syrian family's income to pay for water. think about that for a moment. spending 1/4th of your income so you have water for your family. the essential infrastructures have been destroyed in the country. schools have been destroyed, hospitals, sanitation systems, electrical grids.
five million syrians have fled their homeland. it is tragic for all syrians but particularly for the innocent children. many of who have been killed. the mental health of the syrian children, we just received a report last we frosave the children, and it is tragic. that report points out these children have lost their childhood. they have been absent from school because school does not exist in many parts of syria today. their speech has been affected and they have many issues includi includi includi including partial issues. this is a tragic situation for all in syria. the active war has challenged the humanitarian effort in order to get help to the people who have been victimized. i have great concerns about the
trump policy as to how it is assisting and dealing with the crisis in syria. mr. chairman, let me mention three points that concern me. first, we heard president trump will be submitting a budget that has a 37% cut in the state department's budget. if america is going to be active in dealing with the humanitarian needs how do we do that with a budget that is already inadequate and cutting it by over one third? we have also heard reports the humanitarian budget may be zeroed out in some cases. that is not what america stands for. our country has been the leader globally in pursuing humanitarian needs, recognizing that it is part of what we stand for as a nation but it is also in our national security interest to make sure there is stability in countries. can we really do that with a budget that cuts development assistance by that size of an
amount of money? is that what your priorty is going to be? secondly, i have grave concerns about mr. president trump's policies as it relates to russia in dealing with syria. russia has supported and facilitated the atrocities that have taken place in syria. they are targeted civilians, th they have attacked humanitarian conv convoys. russia has participated in war crimes. they need to be held accountable. i will be reintroducing the syrian war crime accountability act. i urge my colleagues to help us get that done so we make it clear to all who are participating in atrocities in syria they will be held accountable for their activities. and third, let me mention the refuge policy of the trump
administration. the most recent executive order. there has been over a hundred republican and democratic national security experts that have sent a letter saying that the president's executive order is harmful to u.s. national security interests and beneath the dignity of our great nation. i couldn't agree more. it is counterproductive. let me just share with the members of this committee the conversations we had with the king of jordan. jordan has accepted 650,000, 650,000, syrian refuges. the king has made it clear that is not presented a security challenge for the country of jordan. the united states has accepted a few thousand refuge and there has been no example of any security threat.
these individuals are vetted as extreme as we have for anyone coming to america taking anywhere from 18-24 months. i think the members of this committee know that. we talked about this frequently and mr. chairman with your permission i would like to introduce three families with us today. the are not numbers. the are pele who are escaping terror and persecution that are now making america their home, to help build this great country. as many of our parents and grand parents came to this country to build a better life. let me introduce mohammed and his family who arrived last year. he was a pastry chef before fleeing to jordan and remained displaced in jordan for your fears before resettling in maryland. next, let me introduce alad who
arrived in the united states last june. he was in the farming business of syria before fleeing to jordan. he was displaced for three years before being referred to the united states for resettlement. the international rescue community helped resettle him in maryland. thank you for being here. and finally, let me introduce sav ear and his wife who arrived into the united states in syria. he and his wife fled to egypt to escape the war where they remained for five years before being resettled in the international rescue committee in maryland. welcome. i am proud you are in the united states and particularly proud you are in my state of maryland. our state has embraced diversity and i believe our state is stronger because of the diversity we have. it is interesting, mr. chairman, and i will conclude on these remarks.
when we look at maryland counties that surround d.c., two of the strongest counties into the united states, both have embraced diversity for decades and is a place in which we welcome democrats. mr. chairman, we need to know trump's policies as it relates to syria and ending the conflict in syria in the national interest of the united states. we don't have that information today. what we do have is a panel of experts that can help us deal with the humanitarian crisis that exists today and how we can be helpful in dealing with those needs. i welcome our panel. >> thank you, senator cardin. and i think all of us are anxious to see a specific policy regarding americans moving forward regarding the syrian situation. that, i am sure, will be forthcoming. we all have our ideas about it
introduce my friend. a portland-based humanitarian. in 40 countries in conflict or recovering from conflict or natural disaster. it is committed to innovation. --cy corps works to make help for families lift themselves out of poverty. mercy corps's commitment to innovation is allowing them to help the poorest of the poor. their commitment to innovation is impressive, but also their courage, working some of the most difficult locations to be found on the globe. inconsiderable danger to their own team, mercy corps has insisted -- assisted millions of syrians. they're one of the largest partners assisting syrians throughout the war, and neil
continues to do on the can to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable citizens. we look forward to hearing your testimony. thank you so much for the work of your organization. thank you so much for the work of your organization. >> thank you senator. our fifth and final witness as president and chief executive officer of international rescue committee. with that, i recognized all five of you to make statements. we are on a short string here obviously as we always are in the u.s. senate. we ask you to keep your remarks to no more than five minutes. however, your full remarks submitted in writing will actually be included in the record. at this hearing. so with that i will recognize our three doctors from syria and i guess i will let you decide on who will go first to present their statement.
>> good morning. ranking member, distinguished meer. thank you for the fortunate to appear before you today. my name is -- i am from aleppo. i am here today not only as a dr. but as a wife and mother and syrian. for the past six years i have witnessed -- i worked in a hospital in aleppo in the opposition held in the city. together with my fellow workers we risk our lives every day to save the lives of the others. we leave at the very last minute. many victims of chemical tax -- finally, i left aleppo on december 12 2015 along with my husband.
and our daughter. in the months leading up to our displacement i can't only describe this only as hell. in my hospital my team and i treated many women with severe injuries. one woman came with shrapnel which penetrated her womb. it took three doctors at once to stabilize the patient. we saved her life but her unborn baby lay dead on the nearby table. many other women died because they could not make it to the hospital. due to the lack of ambulances and the dangerous conditions on the road. they bled to death in their homes. along with their newborn children. a hospital was the most dangerous place in aleppo. my unit in the hospital was very difficult. we were subjected to a daily
barrage of bombs and munion. one day i was performing a cesarean section. [inaudible] the surgical staff had to flee. we were forced to clean debris out of the patient's abdominal cavity. we were able to save her life. after my hospital was partially destroyed by airstrikes we tried to build a new hospital underground. but the seed prevented that. i then moved to another hospital. until it was targeted by airstrikes and chemical weapons. i had my daughter as my side. as a mother's how am i supposed to explain all of this to a kid that knows nothing about
violence, killing? how my supposed to protect her? remember one day in july there was an attack she came running to the operation room crying and unable to breathe. i left the patient. i gave my daughter -- i held her close. this broke my heart. that feeling of powerless to protect my child has broken me to this day. i wish i could say that this atrocities and this was unique to aleppo. sadly this is not the case. they are happening right now in other places. in syria they live under siege. this must be granted to these areas and the international community must work together to end this.
[inaudible] abstracts have intensified. in humanitarian aid has been nearly nonexistent.there are three hospitals that were targeted by airstrikes in the past two weeks.one of the nurses were killed last week. it is our duty as a human being to allow humanitarian exits and to hold those that violate these humanitarian rights accountable.we're going to return to syria to continue our work. it is our duty as doctors. we have two treat any and all patients regardless of their affiliation. we have a moral obligation to try and sustain as many lines as possible. even if that means that we are
our own. to save one life is to save all of humanity. what we have to save lives if you want to do anything do it now. there is no time to waste. as syrians continue to die day after day. thank you. >> thank you for your testimony. doctor you are next. >> chair, ranking members and members of the community. i am from aleppo. and i was a dr. in the hospital. one of three hospitals supported in eastern aleppo. -- this was a small hospital. we were often overrun by a large number of patients and wounded arriving at our facility.
we did our best to save as many lives as we could. but we were forced to make very difficult decisions. with the overwhelming number of wounded civilians and limited resources that we had available to us, we had to face the unimaginable task of deciding who to say and who to lead to die. can you imagine having to make this decision? my colleagues all over the city and i taste this every single day. we asked for help from the internet community many times. we communicated with you and agencies we risk our safety and that of our families by appearing on international media. we did everything we could yet help never arrived. they have no means to enforce the mandates and hold the perpetrators accountable for these kinds. i was one of three doctors from aleppo assigned to negotiate a plan for medical evacuation and
the world health organization. this negotiation, with the cooperation of many parties including russia. however, as the regime and its -- decided to take more territory the attacks escalated. an december 11 as we were trying to save lives and care for victims from a bombing attack the hospital was attacked by a fluorine bomb. we mutely run into the middle ground. close the door and covered our faces. we then heard a knock on the main door. and encountered three men who were suffocating from the gas. we give them whatever medicine we still had available. thankfully, we were able to save their lives. but many others were outside
died from the gas. after this attacked many hospitals had to leave ãstep had to leave fearing for their lives. they were afraid of bombs would strike again. and another clamming attk at the hospital. most of the victim's were children. and we only had one unit of oxygen. the medical staff worked tirelessly to try to pass the mouse from one child to another so that they wouldn't suffocate. this clearing attacks were after repeated attempts by the regime and its -- to destroy the hospital with bombs and ammunition. it had failed to sorted to chemical tax to drivers out. i'm asking you today to hold the traders of these attacks accountable. it must be made clear that the
attack and use of chemical weapons on civilians and healthcare workers are accountable. and unacceptable. an international humanitarian. [inaudible] the seas had left the delivery of medical supplies. in the past six months the siege has extended to create a complete lack of movement for all materials and vacations. yet the war does nothing. in this area they wear more than 50 patients and in desperate need of kidney dialysis medication. earlier this month.after that medication had run out due to lack of a deliveries, we pleaded with the un and other
international to deliver their life-saving medication. not until after three patients died that the medication was delivered. and even that, it was not the un convoy. in three weeks, the medication will run out. and the patient will once again be at threat.we need to stand access. constant violation of international human use of weapons against civilians. humanitarian aid and displacement -- i myself witnessed and was a victim of every one of these heinous acts. i'm here today to ask the american government for help. do not let this continue. do not let more civilians suffer. do not forget the human call of this war and the refugees in the education gap, the
destruction of the healthcare system. an entire generation has been lost. now is your chance to help protect and save syrians still in the middle of this conflict. enforce international law and hold traitors accountable. i ask you do not fail us again. thank you. >> thank you doctor. >> good morning. i was the director of the hospital and aleppo. the largest hospital in that part of the city. the hospital was established by the american society. in february 2015. because of the many attacks on
the hospital, they went underground to protect patients and medical workers. from the opening of the hospital in 2013 until -- october 2016. they were hit 22 times in october 2016. hospital was targeted four times in one week. and i myself was hit by shrapnel in one of the attacks. and it remains my body to this day. do you remember the young boy who was become a symbol of
i love aleppo. i love syria. it is my home. it is a part of me. i dream of one day return to my home with my family and i call on you to protect hospitals and health workers. we must allow -- and not be forced. [inaudible] when you have freedom you must help others to be free. the government must be more --
thank you, sir. >> thank you doctor. >> we are now moving to -- >> i almost feel like i should just stop right now after this human face and the courage of our syrian friends. i just want to thank the doctors, dr. farida , dr. abdulkhalek and dr. rajab for their courageous work and upholding humanity.i also want to say what a privilege it is to be with my friends, david and his great organization irc we work closely together and proudly around the world. and also i have to thank my friends jeff merkley for his incredible friendship and for his incredible support to mercy corps, to the state and our country.
and finally to tim kaine for all he has done on behalf of mercy corps. and of course for his friendship as well. while the politics on the ground in syria have changed, the one thing that remains constant is the suffering of the syrian people. and at this point i really want to think the us government, usaid, the state department for years of leadership in supporting the syrian people. i think we need to recognize this. us has been the largest donor, the largest supporter, a leader in upholding whatever aid there can be for syria over these years. now if i may, and chairman referred to this end i want to begin with mercy course situation in turkey. where recent events have diminished our ability to alleviate the suffering inside syria. we have conducteone of the
rgest hunitarian operations from turkey to syria with the permission and full cooperation of the turkish government over the past five years. as you all may know, in just a few weeks ago the turkish government revoked mercy course registration to operate in turkey or to deliver cross-border assistance. that is disruptive life-saving assistance for 360,000 syrians that we reach every month in size and has effectively ended support to 100,000 people in turkey. syrian and turkish citizens. to date, our situation remains unresolved.we continue to seek a dialogue with turkish officials so that we may resume our operations as soon as possible. we stand ready to correct any technical mistakes we might have made. meanwhile, we have had no choice but to shut down our presence in turkey while working closely with our
partners and donors including us aid and -- we know turkey has been a generous global leader during action. it welcomes more than 3 million syrian refugees and boost one of the world's most important policies on refugees allowing them to earn a living for their families and offering them a path to citizenship. like the united states, turkey is a signatory to a an international humanitarian laws requiring protection of innocent civilians caught in the conflict. as an independent and impartial humanitarian organization, mercy corps mandate is to deliver essential aid to civilians in need on all sides of the conflict. and i can say that we are very proud of our principal humanitarian effort in syria and arou the world today. of course we all know the only solution to the suffering of
syrians is a political resolution. humanitarian aid saves lives and it it sustains hope. only peace saves societies and nations. strong, smart us engagement remains a critical component. distinguish senators under this issue is toughbook please remain resolute in your push for a durable peace in syria. meanwhile, this is staggering the dark statistics defiant description. imagine the combined populations of oregon and tennessee in need of humanitarian assistance. and that is syria today. at a recent conference on supporting syrians, a young syrian who works for mercy corps told the assembly, he said i am waiting for the war
to stop so i can go back and rebuild syria. i believe that we can rebuild syria better than before.i feel i have a lot of power and i can bring my skills. i can now speak out in the lead. i want the same for other youth as well. and friends, let's remember him.let's remember the human face of the people involved and let's never lose hope regardless of how complex or how dark sometimes the day seems. thank you very much. >> thank you. -- >> it is a real honor to be back in front of this committee. alongside some extraordinary humanitarian leaders. i want to echo what neil has said about the really humbling work done by the syrian doctors we are proud to work alongside of them is syria. i also echo his mutual admiration's that we are created for each other and an
organization that we are proud to stand alongside and admire. i will not take long for this open statement. you have got the tempe diversion i think in your papers. i know there will be many questions. i also need to apologize that given the late start time i have to leave early. we have over 1000 staff inside syria today in 2000 and four and neighboring states.in the south of syria we are proud to be the largest part of healthcare but i'll assess apparently as stated by a recent uptick in fighting.to syrian nurses and opposition groups by airstrikes, medical facilities, we left eight hospitals and 2016 to airstrikes. and by local axes affiliate capitalizing on the chaos in the south.in the northeast i was in iraq seeing some of the work last week.
in the northeast of syria we support iraqis fleeing violence from mosul entering syria and those displaced. and 4000 more people can be affected as this intensifies in the next few months. in the northwest of the country of syria, i ask you provide emergency assistance to those forced from eastern aleppo also. i have to report the increased infighting among opposition groups and from the regime and the russian supporters writing civilians and their ability to serve them. i will not repeat all of the statistics that you have heard that you know. i do want to point to a statistic that still shocks me in the evidence i supplied. subsequent to three un security council resolutions ahead of you and operations has reported that less than one percent of those, syrian civilians under siege inside syria have been
reached by humanitarian operations. not because of inefficiency in the ui but because of deliberate blockage by the regime and in some cases, by opposition forces. you also know the 5 million refugees have lead to other areas. they want protection for women and kids in education. chairman and senators, we point out our statement that there are three fundamental choices that now face the united states government and the senate. the first is about politics and diplomacy. the truth is the is has been absent from the recent public diplomatic efforts.russia, turkey and iran put themselves centerstage. there is not just a war without end in syria, there is also a war without law. in a principled american voice is needed to articulate support for its national humanitarian law and accountability for those who violate it. the truth is, the us does not provide this voice, no one else will. the second is about foreign assistance.we understand the
major proposals and assistance that will be announced tomorrow. this will be a charge for the people of syria and they would translate into excruciating choices, for the people that we serve. it would also setback us strategic leadership. hope you will allow me to say for my own time in the uk government and now running this i know that you humanitarian leadership is second to none. bilaterally and through the united nations. the us provides 40 percent of support for the united nations high commissioner and refugees. the state department have led this. the project american ideals and protect american interests. offer less than one percent of the federal budget work .2 percent of national income. they offer federal disaster assistance at 6.9 million syrians in 2015 helped by the united states. that should be a benchmark for the future. it will be a genuine tragedy of the us administration would
lose faith and the value of humanitarian aid as it is just proving its work. finally the third is about refugee resettlement. last week's executive order suspending the resettlement program is a stark message to syrians and allies in the region. including i'm sorry to say, iraqis who worked with and risk their lives with and for the united states. the uncertainty about this trip is a gift for those that would argue that the united states will help refugees needed to happen to be muslim. that is not true. it is around the region day by day. and lebanon and iraq i spoke with people affected by the executive order. these are the most vulnerable people. some of the most vulnerable in the world and the most vetted entrance into united states. there is already extreme venting for refugees that want to get here. what is wrong is the suspension of a whole program will lead to
people going to the back of the queue because of the cause underway.i recommend that if there's going to be a review it is not to take four months. 20 or 30 day review would be quick and allow the program to continue. remember this, after 9/11 the positive program was only two months. the reason all that it is not a form of positive program. despite the 120 liters of the national security system it says that the program stands. mr. chairman and senators there can be no effective foreign policy without effective humanitarian policy. i hope that this is a message that you can take up with pride and gusto. thank you very much, indeed. >> we will now proceed to a round of five-minute questions and answers. i will reserve my time to interject and i will recognize you senator. >> i want to thank you all for your testimony.i want to join my two friends and paying
special tribute to the three doctors that are here today. we really arinspirational to all of us. i grew up in a generation watching match on television. as i saw american doctors performed in the korean war and marveled how they performed in combat situations. there were soldiers. you are not soldiers. you are performing with great personal sacrifice to your own safety. in order to save lives in your community. under conditions that you should not have to put up with. i just really wanted to express our deep appreciation for your international humanitarian efforts which really inspire us and i think the global community to do more. what we do is not a personal sacrifice to our lives like you do. i just really want to thank you for being here. it is extremely valuable to the effort. and i want to assure you that i
will do everything in my power to make sure those who have committed these atrocities, bombing hospitals, targeting hospitals! with bombs, attacking humanitarian convoys in order to stop you from getting medicine you need to keep children alive. everyone of those individuals who committed these war crimes from the assad regime to the russian involvement are held accountable for their activities. and of course the number one thing that we need to do is and this war. that is not today's hearing and i agree with the chairman, that is not what we are here for today but the way to stop these atrocities and stop this humanitarian crisis is to resolve the civil war, to deal with the terrorists in the country and return stability to the people of syria by government to represent all of
the communities. so first of all thank you for your extraordinary leadership. we have had a chance to talk about these ises. i could not agree with you more about the impact of presidents executive order. and from your testimony those affected, there are family members who have helped our troops. their children, widow struggling and those in need of urgent medical care. they are those under persecution for their political or religious beliefs. a two-month delay is too long for these people. as he said, there is no need for this form. and we hope that it is much shorter than that. i just really want to talk a little and ask your impact on the, the potential impact of the executive order in the region. we have turkey, jordan, lebanon that had literally millions of syrian refugees. they border syria. if they decide well, the us
policy that you're not thinking refugees. maybe we should send them back to syria. what impact that have on an already unsustainable humanitarian need that exists in syriac? >> thank you senator. the numbers in small countries in the region are staggering. there is 4 and a half million, when happily refugees, jordan has seven -and-a-half-million with 650,000 refugees. and there are 600,000 unregistered. turkey is a much bigger country with 2.7. and very clearly, personally or conditions for refugees on the ground that is getting tougher by the week they're running out of savings, they're having to reregister which sometimes has fees associated school and become more situation is against us allies in the region
like jordan is very real. the employment rate amongst jordanians is -- the poverty rate amongst syrians is 78 percent. so there is a political management difficulty on the short-term of the humanitarian aid system compounds difficulties for the government of jordan. we're working with them on employment programs to try and help the companies take advantage of free trade access. special free-trade access to the markets but that requires 15 percent of the employees to be refugees. we are trying to work with them to square the circle. the third aspect that think relates to the first two is that many refugees giving up the hope of legal resettlement in the us. frankly taking their lives to their own hands and trying to get the europe. the push factors driving people from syria and from the neighboring states to get to your remained very strong indeed. and there obviously the great
danger is that there is a domino effect from the us decision, historically the us has been the largest refugees resettlement country. the domino effect goes through the european states who then ran back and then leads to a series of actions by state like jordan and lebanon and also kenya, uganda, ethiopia. that means that the global ramifications become very real and the instability is the result. >> thank you. in regards to mercy corps i want you to know i hope today we will hear ways that we can help deliver humanitarian aid effectively to those who are involved. clearly what was done in turkey needs to be reversed. i am sure that we will try to assist you and i will certainly be working with the senators on our committee to see how we can engage the turkish government to resolve your issues so that you can get that aid back to the people of syria. i want you to know that. we will be in communication with the turkish government.
>> senator johnson. >> senator rubio, i also want to thank the doctors for their testimony and courage. for spending time with me in my office yesterday. they say that politics would change and i want to ask you dr. abdulkhalek , with the involvement in russia us have been witness to chemical tax purity of the present. can you talk about the change in tactics and change in weapons when russia got involved? >> after the russian involved in the conflict we noticed bunker buster, they can destroy underground structures. and we noticed they use the bomb in the.
[inaudible] and also cluster bombs. >> was there more frequent tirade at the hospitals once russia became involved? >> yes. they're locating the hospital, the location position and then start targeting it many times until we had to leave that hospital. fearing our safety or injured men. >> doctor you also said that you talked about two attacks using chlorine. we also see regular use. any other chemicals that you are aware that have been documented and used for primarily chlorine? >> just flirting. >> how many chlorine attacks were there?>> for m threes,
government so the last month they discover its place is the place so they start targeting if i many weapons until they used the chemical weapon chlorine gas. but they targeted that into hospital with a chlorine attack before six or seven months. parentheses in the world has field syria. i could not agree more. it is shameful. mr. kinney geyer. you say politics have changed. please describe that. describe the reality. it is great to say we are going to hold people accountable but describe the reality in the ground right now. what has changed? >> i do not often find myself commenting on the politics of the situation. but what i will say that has changed, we all know as an organization that had a significant commitment to the
city of aleppo we have team members who were in aleppo and work on that last evacuation bus out and we are very proud of them.they were given the opportunity to leave like many of these doctors earlier on and chose to stay out of solidarity. but obviously that situation in aleppo has changed and in the north you have now very vulnerable. many of the citizens and aleppo are now there. they clearly have the government, turkey has come down into the area. those areas and obviously the concern over rocco. what has also happened in the southern part of the country that we should all be aware of, it is very difficult and that is, there has been efforts that have pacified some areas but of course along the jordanian border we see increase in conflict. what has remained the same and
i think is critically important is the staggering need of innocent syrians. and if i may in particular comment on all lives are really important but at the same time we are particularly concerned about young syrians. nearly 4.8 syrian refugees in the region are children. and there are more than 8.5 million children and young people in syria that are in need of immediate support. nevermind education. >> i appreciate that i don't have much time. the point being is the world, we have stood by the world for six years and watch the slaughter of half a million at least syrians. and i'm all for diplomatic solutions with diplomacy follows facts on the ground. and they are such that russia, iran and besides have conquered aleppo their winning the war, is that not correct? isn't that the politics that
had changed and what kind of diplomatic solution can there be when the facts have changed so dramatically on the ground? >> i am not sure i would go as far as you did senator in that situation. i have spent more than 30 years working in and out of the middle east. i am always cautious to draw any firm and fast conclusions that relates to the middle east. but what i will say is that if we are no closer to a political solution, i think you are right in that. and in fact in many ways the situation is more complicated than ever. the one thing i am sure of is that those who suffer the most are innocent civilians and syrians and especially the children. >> i agree. >> thank you senator. >> thank you. thank you doctors. thank you for your incredible testimony. thank you for your bravery. thank you for what you continue
to do to risk your lives in the service of humanity. it is hard to hear your testimony. it is hard to and during the images and the sounds and the stories of unspeakable suffering. and unthinkable human rights violations. week and week out. thousands have been killed in a way that just cries out for the world to respond. should shock the conscience of every senator here and everyone who listens. thank you. delaware just welcomed its first syrian refugee family. in a small but important act i think the christian church, a muslim mosque and jewish family services in partnership welcomed a refugee family that had fled an area close to a your from because of a chemical attack years ago. the united states has done a great deal but nowhere near enough.
my first visit to confront some of the reality of this was with senator mccain and a number of other colleagues to a well-known refugee camp in jordan. where we had memorable meetings.with syrians is that we do not want typically, we do not want tears, not blankets, we want action and accountability and engagement. it is encouraging to be reminded that american humanitarian assistance did help 7 million syrians last year. but it is heartbreaking to realize that a likely dramatic cut in our humanitarian assistance that may be announced tomorrow and may significantly affect hundreds of thousands if not millions of syrians and the whole region. and i am greatly concerned that a pause in a travel ban sends exactly the wrong signal about our values and our willingness to welcome and embrace and support the same sort of work the you have done. to mr. geyer, thank you for the
bravery and dedication of mercy corps along with the senator who i think your statement speaks itself and was powerful about the importance of welcoming refugees the country and the points of supporting mercy corps. i will only say amen and i look forward to trying to work with you to write this situation. in turkey. if i might, i would be interested in hearing what you think would be the actual human consequences on the ground. of having the united states nearly abandoned humanitarian assistance obligations. >> thank you senator. i think us assistance to be seen in three or four key areas. was obviously food for peace program that is significant contributor to food security for serious we are working with the us government are supported on the program. secondly yes has distinguished itself by the flexibility and
speed with which the disaster assistance. works to reach those in greatest need. one obvious example is the theory of edges for your attention to what's happening mosul. i was about 15 kilometers from mosul at the end of last week. it has us support when isis is driven out of an area humanitarians of the first to going after including from the organizations represented here. supported by the us doing that. and that work is beginning to put together the elements of a functioning city.so in the east of mosul there is some construction allowing people to have serces that they can go back to. thirdly, us foreign assistance is distinguished by its ability for the most vulnerable. often that is women and girls. and it is often labeled as protection work. we're certainly proud to be partnering across the region with the us in protecting women and girls from unspeakable level of abuse. i think it is very important.
the final thing i mentioned is that it is a scandal to me that less than two percent of the global humanitarian budget is spent in education. that speaks to the short-term of this system. it is convenient for donors that these are short-term. and technically fiction that is embraced up by the host countries for their own political reasons. the short-term needs to neglect something like education. i've seen some kids that were traumatized refugees i met three or four years ago in the same informal settlement circle. there being helped by program that is an education programs helping them. >> thank you. if i might in conclusion. doctors, 15 of the lesser meeting doctors and aleppo including you, have sent a letter to president obama sending atrocities that we have heard here today. and aspirants to take action
around accountability. i want to commend the senators for reintroducing this act and all of us who are joining as cosponsors to insist on accountability. for the unspeakable things happening to the people in syria. >> senator.>> thank you chairman. thank you to our doctors for your courage in bringing light to an otherwise very dark situation in syria.i agree with -- we do indeed have a fundamental choice to make on this authorizing committee about our level of assistance. we will continue to provide you and others. we are on the receiving end of international human rights violations. i would like to take from your testimony here.
a few things i thought were incredibly powerful. i will start with some things that were said. the introduction of russian airpower ushered in a new phase of conflict. devastating and deliberate effects on civilians, infrastructure, strikes destroyed or otherwise rendered all hospitals in eastern aleppo out of service. that despite the security resolution condemning this. so that these hospitals and humanitarian operations the ã and then the doctors. you each spoke in a very personal way to the tragedies that you have seen on the ground. dr. farida , you know that a hospital was the most dangerous place in aleppo. dr. abdulkhalek , you highlight the repeated attempts by the regime and its allies to
destroy the hospital where you work. using bombs. using cluster munitions. dr. rajab, you noted that in a hospital where you served as director in aleppo, the hospital was bombed out of service. on account of 22 airstrikes. you were hit five times in one week. i cannot imagine operating under these conditions. i cannot imagine being in one of these hospitals. i cannot imagine living in an area of the world where you're constantly under this sort of attack. and who do we blame for this? there is plenty of blame to go around but certainly the russian intervention complicated matters significantly. mr. miliband, you know that the
us security council adopted resolution 2286 in may 2016. given russia's permanent seat on the security council and vetoing resolutions and that the murderous assad regime, no matter how egregious and deplorable the actions had been, i was curious so went back and i looked at the comments of the russian representative in may of last year during the passage of this rity council resolution. you know with the russian deputi permanent representative emphasized in his comments? it is really duplicitous. breathtaking what he says. he says it is unacceptable that medical personnel were under attack. he says this is one of the most important aspect of the whole issue of protecting civilians. he further said members of the un must do more work to protect medical personnel.
this again coming from the russian deputy permanent representative. the russian representative also tried to talk about russia's conduct by emphasizing the need for security council to be guided by reliable information. he said quote can have it is unacceptable that is fed to the media dues for political pressure.i just like, doctors, do you have any thoughts about the russian descendents comments at the un and the reporting attacks against hospitals are unreliable? >> we noticed that there will be more aggressive in the last month after they make. [inaudible] mercer was very
involved in the process of taking the more civilian areas. russia start to make a big effort to damage the hospital and let us flood from the area to another area until we had to evacuate aleppo. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it is a tragedy that we are holding a hearing today to mark the beginning of what was a peaceful uprising in syria. that has turned into the worst humanitarian crisis in recent memory. and we have all seen the heartbreaking images of children and families suffering under the barbaric attacks of assad, the brutal oppression,
the sole purpose is to provide and support the communities. so i have the utmost respect for all of you and all of the work you are doing. particularly the doctors. you truly honor your profession globally and in the darkest moments of men's inhumanity as we have seen in syria, you've shown us what humanity truly is all about. and so we honor you and we, the mere fact that he had to wear masks to protect your identity just speaks volumes. of the challenges that you face. but i have to be honest with you. i am concerned that in the midst of listening to all of the comments of comfort and solidarity that the reality is that it means nothing if we are going to have a 37 percent cut
in our budget. nothing if we are going to deny refugees to come into the united states. nothing if we are not going to continue us leadership in the world in this regard. so all of these stemen of solidarity will only mean something to me and certainly more importantly to those who are fleeing syria. when we asked in ways that actually embrace the cause and that actually shows our solidarity in meaningful ways. so this is why i have a real concern how humanitarian programs operate out of the state department. mostly the bureau of population -- and a host of programs through usaid. i am deeply alarmed by the administrations proposed budget plan to slash these agencies which accounts just for one percent of the overall budget.
i think it is not only morally reprehensible, these kinds are squarely against the national security interest of the united states. advocates of global leadership, it puts our allies at greater risk. want to say to other countries in the world that europe and elsewhere, when the king of jordan comes here, thank you for housing the refugees from syria. and yet, we will cut the various system that gives that a possibility. so hope that my colleagues when it comes time to follow up the words of solidarity will do so with their votes. now i want to go particularly to mr. miliband. i appreciate when you do. on a serious note - >> it is not a hereditary thing. >> new jersey has welcomed 275
syrian refugees in the past 12 months. and they have an active network in new jersey that has enriched the state.what happens when we take a different course? i know that you had an organization, of course you have your own distinguished career in great britain. but as one of the greatest allies the united states has had, what would you say to us is the consequence of us cutting in half the number of refugees to come to the united states? what are the consequences of decimating the budget that ultimately helps? what would it not be in the national interest of the united states and its security to do so? >> thank you senator. i think the simple answer is that america helps create a more stable world. an american retreat leads to more instability that is not just to their values but to the interest.
in both in respect to foreign aid and respect to refugee resettlement. this country has been claimed to be a world leader. america has claimed global leadership. this is the most -- resettlement program in the world. they want to learn the lessons of your resettlement program. and the strategic leadership that you offer. this global system that we have, the global order that we have is upheld by american leadership. and that leadership is in retreat, both humanitarian law and global stability are threatened. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you for being here for all of the work you do in particular to the doctors who have risked so much to be part
of this. i want to touch on the narrative that some have put out. since you are on the ground that you have been there and seen this reality up close you can hope to enlighten us about this reality. and all of you think have commented. and some of these outlets around the world - i do not know where they're getting their news from. but aleppo was a city divided between areas controlled by rebels in areas controlled by the government. and that these benevolent russian forces combined with a regime when -- went in and liberated. by the way i don't think many here are a fan of this.
going about their lives not in holding the internal politics of any nation including their own and somehow were targeted which is what you now prescribed. if you are someone that happened to live in one of these areas, the liberation of this notion that somehow. how would you characterize the way this was conducted by russia and even by some of the elements?
>> i can tell you in the eastern part of now. they are destroyed completely and the other. [inaudible] and after the civilians had fled to other parts no electricity, clean water until now. they are not rebels in the beginning of the resolution. revolution. they were civilians like us and they had to raise their weapons against the government because the government started killing
everyone and would go uprising in the government. they were not soldiers from the revolution and they deal with civilians but most of the cases of course. they are afraid and evacuate before them and they don't -- they don't involve targeting us. you are concerned about being identified for your own safety. who are you fearful of?
we are fearful of the government because if they discovered if they may send someone to get rid of us or they can capture. >> sometimes injured soldiers came to us that the baby warm to which ones they belong to that group, we don't know. know. >> they are facilities that were treating medical conditions and you have no doubt in your mind but particularly after the russian engagement they were specifically targeted. >> yes because many went on to
the government and they were targeting by one time and repeated until they destroyed it and then they stopped targeting it after so they stopped targeting it. hispanic president trump wants to cut the budget by 37% and then moves the money over to the defense department so that's going to create a dynamic that is dangerous in sight of the country. russia, turkey and iran are gathered to shore up the cease-fire and the geneva talks scheduled to resume this week and the united states doesn't ts
doesn't appear to prepare to have a significant role in any of the upcoming discussions even when the united states has been a part of the law almost from the beginning. so, secretary, how long can america remain absent from these discussions if we are going to reinforce the cease-fire and protect civilians and allow medical and other relief to go to victims. to recognize wha that the doctor said earlier in the current cease-fire there's significant activity still taking place.
>> i thin >> i think it's something senator rubio started and the accountability bill and it could powerfully be linked to the resolution of the general assembly for bringing together the material to hold accountable those who commit more crimes and while it's true the general assembly is not deadlocked with a majority to support this kind of initiative. >> child soldiers, it's not just isis but it's also the syrian army that is conscript in children. what do you recommend we use our influence to try to ensure is the policy? >> thank you, senator. with respect to child soldiers
anywhere. whether is in the middle east or other parts of the world we have to have a firm policy that isnacceptable. they've devolved into a situation now where any fair-minded person looking at it is going to say it is hard to sort out who are the good guys and the bad guys. it isn't crystal clear who the good guys are. the stability in the middle east is critically important for every interest this country has in that part of the world and it's critically important in the national security and as the doctors reminded us frankly there isn't a military solution. we know the only solution is one that is diplomatic going forward
and i certainly would urge him to believe that we end up with a better solution. whether it's important for the cease-fire or that it be the constitution of child soldiers all the way down the line each side begins to engage in activities that are atrocities by any definition and so, that's why the united states can't abandon the diplomatic pathway. can you talk a little bit about the programs we can put in place
a. it's the community norms and structures that exist and to the degree that we can support a there are credible civilian local councils that are not involved in the politics and are not involved in the fighting and believe one day they will ha an opportunity to build a better syria. it's in the context menu support organizations like ourselves who work for the local groups. that's the best way to ensure the protection and we need to be talking to the russians to get this resolved. >> i think one needs to talk to anyone to get this resolved. >> the progress depends on what you say to them.
>> if you don't have the discussion that is just repetition, you agree with that? >> russia and iran are not natural allies and we shouldn't take it as a matter of definite course that they are in an alliance that is unbreakable but there are signs that they are sending different messages into the system. and in your interest they do it together. i would like some indication of where that goes from here.
i think that you are going to see more and more people leaving. we have those displaced already. we haven't seen the rest and frankly the bombardments will take people out. the second point is to pick up something said that they were not national allies remember turkey is a member of nato and a part of the conflict depends on the relations between turkey, russia and the u.s. in respect to the situation and so it is correct to the 400,000 people could be displaced by the
attempt then the way in which they engage is critical. they've not had a chance to contribute positively to their societies and in particular, in that part of the world when there are competing ideologies some of them as sinister as they come should not be allowed to continue to exist in a civilized world if they become pathways increasingly for young people out of the made so the longer this goes on and the mor the moe instability continues and the more we need to worry about those kind of issues and that's why it is so important to bring this to a close as soon as we
can. >> other organizations and countries have been helpful in thhumanitarian effort. any idea what russia has done with regards to humanitarian efforts? >> that's not their focus. >> but is there even an attempt to make it look like they are concerned about the humanitarian situation in? >> i did raise this with the now famous russian ambassador, and at the russians talk about their support from the system and that is the way they would see their data going forward.
it is triggered by the fury and secret police and six years which now sees half a million people who are dead and a quarter of the 21 million people in the country have flooded destabilizing neighboring countries and certainly having a big impact on europe. the un secretary-general when he was the high commissioner of refugees characterized the war as the great tragedy of the century and a disgraceful calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history. our witnesses today, the doctors
and mercy corps have been there and he's terrific circumstances trying to assist with medical care and nutrition and support and i commend them all for this tremendous effort individually and with the organizations. i am disappointed that turkey has revoked the registration to provide assistance through turkey to over 300,000 syrians. i do appreciate that they've been a leader in the refugee response and a close partner over many years before. what are the immediate steps sts that would be helpful but you might like to see taken by the government of turkey? >> thank you for your efforts in this matter.
when the revocation came, we were frankly stunned into deeply saddened and i say saddam because of the hundreds of thousands that we help each month in sight of the country that have been such a critical lifeline of support and hope and second, particularly for the team members who've put their lives on the line through all of these years in the toughest times and the darkest days to make a difference and we have always enjoyed a close working relationship with turkey so our approach right now, we presume and have not been given in the official reason that we presume there is some technicality and that our aim is to enter into discussions and negotiations that will allow us to restore our ability to operate.
the governors have been extremely supportive of our work and the local authorities have been supportive, but turkish red crescent has been supportive and so we think the senators for all the support and at this stage we are working night and day to ensure we can get back to work as soon as possible. >> has the state department been helpful in facilitating a conversation? >> the state department and ambassador has been extremely helpful. i want to commend them for their efforts particularly in these difficult times. >> so at this moment with the supply chain of significant assistance over 300,000, can you paint for us a picture of the challenges being faced by those that would otherwise have been assisted by the flyover and water and assistance that you all provided? >> a large substantial portion
of the aid going across the border washe wheat flour that went to bakeries. we were trying to use the markets to keep the price of bread affordable for ordinary citizens and through the bakeries, vulnerable people got vouchers so they could pay a small amount for the bread so that was a critical lifeline. in addition to that, we have been providing a number of internally displaced camps along the turkey and syrian border. we've been providing clean and fresh water for the camps to more than 100,000 people on a weekly basis. so, immediately, those abilities have been cut off. in addition, because we see the recently ends and the desire to help themselves even at this time. we've been supporting the
recovery of agricultural land so they could get back to growing their own food and not be as good on the outside. again wherever you can restore the market it is so important for people and for any chance of recovery. all of those programs are at risk. >> thank you. senator cain. >> i want to thank some colleagues, murphy, rubio and became joined me today to enter a resolution commemorating the challenges of the last six years and encouraging all of us to do more. i want to thank the organizations here come the mercy corps and sam's does wonderful work. you have been praised as individuals but i also know this organization and i've met with the physicianphysicians and thes that have a strong organization thank you for what you are doing. a coent and then maybe a question or two. in november, 2015, the house of
representatives passed a bill called securing america against foreign enemies act and that walked refugees from coming into the united states. this is a body that won't have a vote to declare isis as an enemy but it would label series and refugees. i was proud of my senate coffee is when the bill came over we wouldn't have anything to do with it because refugees are not the enemies of the united states and i am extremely discouraged that they perpetrated the same thing. it issued the orders in january with the title executive order protecting the nation from tigger was some. that was the title. the revised immigration workers are not much better because they hate them by a temporary suspension of the refugee program and by a temporary suspension of this year he ends being able to come to the united states and by the dramatic
reduction of the number the united states would take. refugees are not enemies. when the administration issued the initial executive orders, i was in roanoke virginia are from international airports and far from worrying about this issue doing events about the affordable care act. i had somebody come up to me at a recession and said my family y helped a syrian refugee family resettle working with catholic charities a year ago. let me tell you how great they are doing. the husband is working on a construction crew and everybody loves him. they are all of different political persuasions to buy soccer shoes for the kids at christmas and you can't say thie family has been a credit to the community. but they were asking me we have a second family of arriving at the airport in four days.
they've been at a camp in jordan for four years getting vetted and finally approved into the united states. what's going to happen to them and they haven't been able to come to the united states. the notion that this administration is perpetrating that refugees are enemies is just absolutely contrary to the values of this country. i second the comments made that the slashing of the foreign aid budget would be a horrible thing but even if the budget doesn't get splashed by a penny, perpetrating a stereotype about refugees or enemies is deeply troubling to me. the un security council in february of 2014 past the resolution calling for cross-border delivery of safety for people receiving aid and safety of medical facilities. i think the enforcement and implementation has been a disaster based on the testimony that has been given.
what does it say about the un and about the security council, what does that say about the nations that are members of the security council that the resolution that called out clearly for the pizza delivery and protection of medical facilities has been so poorly enforced since it passed. >> if i might, mr. chairman, there are two things to say about that first you made a distinction between the un and security council and is often confusion between the ages is and the countries that stand up. i know from my own experience the truth about the resolutions is the divided security council has weakened the hand of all of those trying to implement the resolution. second point i don't know what is worse, the fact that the 2014 resolution hasn't been abided by or on the 28t 20th of february s year it was vetoed. i think it's important to see
the two of them together. it points to the fundamental challenge that now exists because we've never been in this situation befor before with a permanent member was unwilling to uphold the fundamental aspects of the humanitarian law. >> senator, if i may just add quickly, i think you pointed out that even the best of the operational agencies often reflect the politics of the security council and discourages them sometimes from taking the kind of bold action that they should be taking. we have encouraged them along with authors from the day of the resolution t did not test it and push for cross-border humanitarian assistance. unfortunately, that didn't happen. i think that just reinforces why and how important it is the importance of organizations to
reach people in need in some of the toughest places in the world but particularly those environments that are plagued by these kind of politics we are often the only lifeline. i have one more question but if you would like to each ask questions before i do. >> do you have any further questions? >> the u.s. is currently engaged in a major military action and there's been a production that might lead to another 400,000 refugees. i don't want to ask about the military side of it, but what would be your prediction about if this military operation is successful walk down the road with us and tell us what we might see in terms of the humanitarian challenge and what that might mean in terms of opening up space for the greater or the lesser resolution in some of the talks about finding a
cease-fire in the next chapter. >> very quickly, i don't know any of us who don't hope deeply that groups like isis have no place to operate anywhere. they are not in the interest of anyone, certainly of innocent syrians and so i think one would welcome through that kind of action that it could come back as a normal city. in terms of the humanitarian impact, it is going to depend obviously on how the military action unfolds. there were great predictions that goes with produce a humanitarian disaster and it still might. it has ends up until now i think we all appreciated some of the great care that has them taken and the concern.
some of the harshest predictions didn't come true and i think we all hoped that. if there is effective coordination on the ground and if there is upholding the humanitarian principles and if there is respect for the actors like ourselves i think actually we could move in very quickly to restore the services and meet the criticalumanitarian needs. they've got relatives that are in hiding previously worked for the government and will be a massive degree secondly i don't see it being a quick win at all.
we know from history and we can see in our state the positions in the definition of military operations is key to the way in which it has been one. that is obviously a dangerous down payment. they all come together so the final point on the political options the greatest danger is they get worse rather than better and become increasingly extreme opposition groups that the chairman has referred to that has claimed victory and that is a recipe.
i want to thank the panel. i would point out that we have a government we can work with and communicate with flair there is a much greater risk. i would also point out that clearly we need to deal with the responsibility and accountability to the regime to the involvement of the terrorist groups that are operating. all of that is continuing to add to the humanitarian crisis, so we need to engage the community more effectively in dealing with this. but it starts with taking care of business at home. many of my colleagues have talked about this.
but our program is not only directly important for the refugees but it is a signal to the international community to the leadership and its very much it will affect policieit'll affr countries as you mentioned when europe decides to do with the countries decide to do. we also in congress have a responsibility here are the ones who pass the budget. president donald trump canceled as onthat one but he passed thee budget and have the responsibility to speak out about the importance of our assistance and i hope he will do the right thing. we also need to deal with the preventions as we mentioned that the bipartisan that we work on to try to get it done. senator rubio has been instrumental but also we do that type of policies and priorities.
we know that displaced families are at risk and that it's difficult to get humanitarian aid to those that are at risk and we all need to do a better job. i want to thank the doctors in particular for being here and all the witnesses for providing helpful information as to what we need to do to help not only the theory and humanitarian needs of the whole region that is involved. >> i think the ranking member and all the members that came today including and especially the doctors that have taken great personal risk not just in their conduct on the ground even being here today. there was a statement made earlier and i know what you meant to say that we don't know who the good guys are and i know what you mean.
i know five of them are but three in particular. we thank them for the work they've done. the other part i say to my colleagues it is a lesson to be learned we didn't have to be here today. this didn't have to happen. it was pointed out repeatedly standing up against the government. when we talk about some of these were fighting actors on the ground it's amazing how many are not serious and how this became a magnet for the foreign fighters all over the region to come in and use it as a playground for the aims and goals and how the regime has decided to come in and slaughter the fellow countrymen. it was stunning on the committee we have a hearing and i asked a very direct question of the nominee for the secretary of state about whether the russians have been involved in the commission of the war crimes.
i think hopefully by now he has been made aware of the reality targeting the medical facility is no matter what is happening in that area is a war crime and that targeting wouldn't have enossible had it not been for the assistance and direct attacks conducted by the regime moving forward i think that this is an ongoing crisis for the world and to those who have argued in the past that america has a lot of problems and we should be focused on the problems and that other countries take care of their problems, it doesn't work that way. that's not how the world works today. we are having debates about refugee programs. we didn't have refugees or people thawerepeople that needee there wouldn't be an issue for us to be debating in this country. and the other this is the absence of leadership looks like and sadly it is a bipartisan absence in many cases that has led to the situation so
sometimes it isn't enough to do the right thing, you have to do the right thing at the right time because if you don't see options are forestalled and you reach the situation we are facing. there are obligation to take the message back to ensure the ideas are reflected not just on what we do now but the role america plays in the world do you cope years to come. particularly those that risk their lives before they came and now upon their return i hope this will serve as an inspiration to every member of the committee and the senate and those of us that care deeply about the affairs of the world and the way forward, so thank you for posting this hearing and i want to thank you all for being here. the record is going to remain open until the close of business on friday and that includes time to submit additional questions for the record. we asked the witnesses given the circumstances to respond promptly because they will be made part of the record we can