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Syria’s Kurdish-led region decries lack of international support in COVID-19 fight

The Kurdish-led autonomous administration in northeast Syria has formally confirmed the area’s first death from the coronavirus while also taking aim at the cynical nature of the United Nations’ modus operandi, which prioritizes relations with national governments — sometimes at the expense of human lives.

In an April 17 statement, the health authority of the autonomous administration said a 53-year-old man had died in Qamishli National Hospital of COVID-19. But the fact that he had perished as a result of the global pandemic was news to the administration. A sample collected from the man was sent to Damascus on March 29. But it wasn’t until April 16 that local authorities in the northeast learned that he had tested positive for COVID-19. “Not by the World Health Organization, not by the Syrian government. We were [rather] informed of this by a [nongovernmental organization (NGO)] that operates in our region,” an official from the autonomous administration, speaking not for attribution, told Al-Monitor. “Can you imagine?” added the official.

The health authority did not mince words: “We at the Health Directorate see [the World Health Organization (WHO)] as responsible for the presence and spread of the coronavirus in our areas. It has concealed the existence of a suspected case and did not inform the autonomous administration, which is responsible for the governance of these areas.”

The coronavirus disaster has thrust into sharp relief the challenges faced by non-state entities in getting assistance from the international community in times of crisis — in this case, from the United Nation’s health arm, the WHO. The latter has avoided direct dealings with the Kurdish-led entity for fear of antagonizing the Syrian government and demands that it send all samples to Damascus for testing.

The approach mirrors its handling of the internationally isolated Republic of China or Taiwan. The WHO has been slammed for pandering to China and for failing to independently verify its claims about the disease, effectively leading to its spread, many claim. In a March 27 interview conducted via video link by Hong Kong’s RHTK, a senior WHO adviser dodged questions when pressed about Taiwan’s response to the global pandemic, claiming he could not hear them. Bruce Aylward, former assistant director-general at the outfit, then went on to say, “Well we’ve already talked about China. And when you look across all the different areas of China, they’ve actually done quite a good job.” China regards Taiwan as part of its territory.

The Kurdish-led autonomous administration in northeast Syria has formally confirmed the area’s first death from the coronavirus while also taking aim at the cynical nature of the United Nations’ modus operandi, which prioritizes relations with national governments — sometimes at the expense of human lives.

In an April 17 statement, the health authority of the autonomous administration said a 53-year-old man had died in Qamishli National Hospital of COVID-19. But the fact that he had perished as a result of the global pandemic was news to the administration. A sample collected from the man was sent to Damascus on March 29. But it wasn’t until April 16 that local authorities in the northeast learned that he had tested positive for COVID-19. “Not by the World Health Organization, not by the Syrian government. We were [rather] informed of this by a [nongovernmental organization (NGO)] that operates in our region,” an official from the autonomous administration, speaking not for attribution, told Al-Monitor. “Can you imagine?” added the official.

The health authority did not mince words: “We at the Health Directorate see [the World Health Organization (WHO)] as responsible for the presence and spread of the coronavirus in our areas. It has concealed the existence of a suspected case and did not inform the autonomous administration, which is responsible for the governance of these areas.”

The coronavirus disaster has thrust into sharp relief the challenges faced by non-state entities in getting assistance from the international community in times of crisis — in this case, from the United Nation’s health arm, the WHO. The latter has avoided direct dealings with the Kurdish-led entity for fear of antagonizing the Syrian government and demands that it send all samples to Damascus for testing.

The approach mirrors its handling of the internationally isolated Republic of China or Taiwan. The WHO has been slammed for pandering to China and for failing to independently verify its claims about the disease, effectively leading to its spread, many claim. In a March 27 interview conducted via video link by Hong Kong’s RHTK, a senior WHO adviser dodged questions when pressed about Taiwan’s response to the global pandemic, claiming he could not hear them. Bruce Aylward, former assistant director-general at the outfit, then went on to say, “Well we’ve already talked about China. And when you look across all the different areas of China, they’ve actually done quite a good job.” China regards Taiwan as part of its territory.

Source: AL-Monitor

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