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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Ongoing Humanitarian Crisis in Syria

Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 9:30am
2200 Rayburn House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria and the continuing efforts to protect and assist the affected civilian population.

With the Syria crisis now in its eighth year, civilians have borne the brunt of a conflict marked by unparalleled suffering, destruction and disregard for human life. Over 6 million people are internally displaced while millions more have fled the country in search of safety. Ongoing armed conflict in the northeast and northwest regions of the country continues to feed the crisis: according to OCHA, hundreds of civilians including women and children have been killed or injured due to airstrikes and shelling since May 1, while more than 400,000 people are estimated to have fled their homes to escape from violence. At the end of 2018 the United Nations estimated that over 11 million people in Syria were in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.  

Despite the shifting lines of control inside Syria, humanitarian organizations remain committed to reaching those in need safely and effectively, regardless of their location and in keeping with the humanitarian principles of independence, neutrality and impartiality. But those principles are under pressure inside Syria. Attacks against civilian infrastructure including medical facilities and personnel have been a hallmark of the Syrian conflict and continue apace, while for the third year in a row Syria is the deadliest place in the world to be an aid worker.

The witnesses represent humanitarian agencies operating in Syria using both cross-border and Damascus-based approaches. They will provide an update on the current humanitarian situation in the northwest, northeast and in government-held areas, and discuss the obstacles they confront in providing humanitarian assistance — including insecurity, donor, financial, and counterterror regulations, disregard for international humanitarian law by parties to the conflict, civil-military coordination, and restrictions on freedom of movement — and their strategies to overcome them.

This hearing will be open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. The hearing will be livestreamed via the Commission website and will also be available for viewing on Channel 56 of the House Digital Channel service. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton at 202-225-3599 (for Co-Chair McGovern) or Piero Tozzi at 202-225-3765 (for Co-Chair Smith). 

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC
Christopher H. Smith
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC

Opening Remarks


Panel I

  • Jomana Qaddour, Co-Founder, Syria Relief & Development
    Written testimony
  • Arnaud Quemin, Syria Country Director, Mercy Corps
    Written testimony
  • Anna Cervi, Syria Country Director, Norwegian Refugee Council (by video link)
    Written testimony
  • Amanda Catanzano, Senior Director, International Programs Policy and Advocacy, International Rescue Committee
    Written testimony


Submitted for the Record




116th Congress