Airdrops call is welcome, sieges must end now

As humanitarian and human rights organizations working to alleviate the plight of civilians affected by the crisis in Syria, we welcome efforts by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to pressure the Syrian government and non-state armed actors to lift the sieges across the country and ensure that civilians have unhindered access to humanitarian aid.

The ISSG’s call for the UN World Food Program to carry out a program of airdrops and air bridges for all besieged areas – should humanitarian access continue to be denied from June 1st – is a step that could help alleviate hunger and human suffering. However, airdrops are complicated, inefficient, limited in their scope, and risk the diversion of aid. It is unconscionable that the warring parties’ continued refusal to allow aid to suffering civilians has necessitated using an option of last resort.

By some estimates, more than one million Syrians are affected by sieges across Syria. The ISSG’s priority should be to end all sieges and ensure full, sustained, and unimpeded humanitarian access across all priority sectors throughout the country while ensuring that aid is not used as a bargaining chip for political negotiations.

As co-leads of the ISSG, Russia and the US must pursue all channels so that humanitarian access unconditionally reaches all people in need. If access is not granted by the government and other parties to the conflict, they must ensure that the best conditions possible are put in place for airdrops and air bridges to take place so that aid gets to those who need it most.

Although airdrops can provide some urgent short-term relief, they cannot meet the needs of the Syrian people long term and they must not be a distraction from efforts to gain full and sustained access and the lifting of sieges. One-off deliveries by land or air are insufficient and unacceptable. The international community should settle for nothing less than sufficient and unfettered humanitarian access across all sectors throughout the country.

Now is the time for the ISSG to show the strength of its resolve. The lifting of the sieges is a test of the ISSG members’ commitment to save civilians from slow death and starvation. The ISSG members should no longer tolerate the war crimes that are taking place before their eyes. We call on them to redouble their efforts to bring their collective and bilateral influence to bear on the warring parties to ensure full, sustained, and unimpeded access to populations in need.


ABAAD-Resource Center for Gender Equality (ABAAD Lebanon)

Al Kawakibi Organisation for Human Rights

Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies

Arab Coalition for Sudan

Association de Soutien aux Médias Libres (ASML)

Basmeh and Zeitooneh

Baytna Syria


Blue Nile for Human Rights and Peace

Bridge of Peace US

Broederlijk Delen

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Coucil for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU)

CCFD-Terre Solidaire

Children Plus

Civil Society Initiative Sudan


International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Hand in Hand For Syria

Help 4 Syria UK


Human Rights and Democracy Media Center “SHASM” /Palestine

Human Rights First Society Saudi Arabia

Independent Doctors Association

Islamic Relief

Islamic Relief USA

Just Foreign Policy

Justice Africa Sudan

Karam Foundation

Local Development and Small Projects Support office

Maram Foundation

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)

medico international

Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies

No Peace Without Justice

Nonviolence International

Open Doors International


Pax Christi Flander

Refugees International

Relief & Reconciliation for Syria

Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)

SHAML Coalition

Souria Houria

STAND (Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities)

Syria Charity

Syria Relief

Syria Relief and Development

Syrian Network for Human Rights

The Day After Association (TDA)

The Syria Campaign (TSC)

The Violation Documentation Center in Syria (VDC)

Vision GRAM -International

War Child UK

Win Without War

Women Now For Development