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Amid Anti-Corruption Strike at Syria Opposition Aid Group, UN's Amos Silent

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 3 -- With dozens of staff members of the Syrian Coalition of Ahmad al Jarba's "Assistance Coordination Unit" on strike to protest what they call corruption in Suhair Atassi's distribution of opposition aid, including takeover by the ISIS extremist group, one expected the UN's humanitarian chief Valerie Amos to have some view, or at least a talking point.

When Amos emerged from the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Inner City Press asked her of UN communication with ISIS and the Al Nusra Front, and to comment on the anti-corruption strike by ACU workers. Video here, from Minute 4:39.

  Amos replied, "I don't know the details of any problems that the workers themselves have with the ACU, we continue to be in touch with the ACU."

  How could the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs have nothing to say on this? Multiple media accounts report not only on the strike, but on nepotism and the takeover of OCA bakeries and mills by ISIS.

  Similarly, when even the EU responded to questions about ISIS threats to humanitarian workers in Jarabulus posed by the Free UN Coalition for Access, Amos and OCHA insisted they knew nothing about these threats.

On Tuesday, to Inner City Press' question about OCHA contacts with Al Nusra and ISIS, Amos responded, "When you asked me previously about our specific contacts with specific groups, as I said then and say to you now, we are negotiating for access on a localized basis, that's why these hubs are so important and that will remain the position."

It might be one thing for OCHA to remain mum on contacts with groups on terrorism lists, as it did in connection with natural disasters in Pakistan. But when there are multiple allegations of corruption, including by whistleblower employees, with respect to an aid operation like ACU, then OCHA should have something to say. Watch this site.


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