MEP: Syrian 'elections' during humanitarian disaster grotesque and illegitimate

Marietje
Dutch Member of the European Parliament, Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66), says it is grotesque that the Assad regime is organising so-called elections today. The war in the country goes on, causing one of the largest humanitarian crises ever. Schaake: "These elections are a farce and have no democratic legitimacy. Syria has been in a state of war and total crisis for the past three years and there is no way that these elections could be normal or representative at all. It is abominable that Assad's regime is taking this step while people are dying every day and a huge humanitarian disaster takes place within and outside Syria. This is a provocation of the international community and will only make any eventual resolution of the Syrian conflict more difficult." Humanitarian disaster Inside and outside Syria, millions of people need help. Last week, Schaake visited Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Schaake: "The far-reaching consequences of this crisis can hardly be overseen. In Europe, our focus is on returning jihadist fighters, which is a real concern. But in and around Syria an entire generation of children has been scarred by the experiences of war. Girls and women are especially vulnerable. Child labour is common, education is lacking and girls are forced to marry at a very young age because their parents cannot provide for them. (Sexual) violence is also very common. Even if the war in Syria were to end today, its effects will be felt for the coming decades." The EU is currently the largest provider of humanitarian aid and Schaake wants the EU to keep up its efforts." Aid programmes are lacking resources. Hunger is still being used as a weapon of war. The EU must also focus on accommodating more Syrian refugees." Negotiations Since the negotiations between the regime and opposition collapsed in Geneva, the talks have not been restarted. Schaake wants the EU to play a leading role in bringing the important players back to the table. "Up till now the US and Russia have taken the lead in diplomatic initiatives. Even if we know beforehand that negotiations will be very difficult and will not bring any quick or broad solution, every small step that can be taken would be worthwhile. Perhaps we could gain ground on the subject of humanitarian access." Earlier this year, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution which called for more humanitarian aid to be allowed to enter Syria, Schaake wants the EU to call on Russia to follow this resolution and put pressure on the Syrian regime to allow more convoys into the country.