Did the WHO ship COVID-19 supplies to North and East Syria? It’s unclear. A mysterious tweet by the WHO and a statement by an unnamed WHO official have spurred some confusion as to whether an attempt was made to deliver supplies such as ventilators and personal protective equipment to the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), whether the supplies were routed elsewhere, or even whether the supplies ever existed at all.
In a Tweet on Monday, May 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that it had sent aid to Qamishlo for North and East Syria. An additional Tweet quoting Dr. Akjemal Magtymova, WHO representative in Syria, appeared to confirm the shipment.
However, Dr. Jiwan Mustafa of the AANES Health Commission confirmed that no WHO aid had been received by the AANES and no word of any aid was reported, except for the Tweet.
The AANES “have not received anything from the WHO about what and how much aid is being sent and whether they will provide it to the Autonomous Administration or not,” said Dr. Mustafa.
An unnamed WHO spokesperson, however, told Rudaw News that the aid was warehoused in Qamishlo and that it would be distributed at a later date. That was Wednesday, May 13, 2020. As of Sunday, May 24, 2020, no aid had been received, and the WHO aid mystery had not yet been solved.
Rudaw News wrote: “A WHO spokesperson told Rudaw English later on Wednesday that the shipment of “exclusively medical equipment” is currently being held at warehouses in the area with its contents “under inventory.”
“This equipment will be distributed to functional health facilities in NES (northeast Syria),” including the National Hospitals of Kisra, Qamishli, Raqqa, as well as Keira in Rural Deir ez-Zor, Manbij Hospital, Hasaka’s health department, and Qamishli’s National Hospital,” said the spokesperson, who did not want to be named.
“Staff availability and capacity within the hospitals were the taken into account when planning supply distribution,” they added.”Source: Rudaw News
The initial Tweet fails to mention who in Qamishlo received the aid, so it remains in question whether this aid was in fact delivered to a Syrian government facility in Qamishlo. The Syrian government has so far abjectly neglected to send COVID aid to the people of North and East Syria.
This is just the latest chapter in the story of WHO neglect towards the COVID-19 threat in North and East Syria. The AANES Health Commission has stated that they “blame” the WHO for the spread of COVID-19 in their region, as the WHO waited more than two weeks to notify them of their first positive test result. It has also not allowed any aid into the region, and has closed all humanitarian border crossings into the region.
Following further pressure from Russia, the WHO has also now canceled its funding for any humanitarian aid groups operating in North and East Syria.