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Ghana is using its power at the United Nations to help desperate Syrians

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The government had already announced it would limit new admissions to emergency cases
Syrians

Millions of refugees remain at death’s door after the recent devastating earthquakes in Northwest Syria and Turkey. Ghana is in a special position to help.

Ghana can help because of its seat on the United Nations Security Council, through which it can push for more aid to Syria. To do that, Ghana can provide what the world direly needs these days — a nation that fights for what is right.

Ghana recently showed such strong character, using its leadership at the U.N. to condemn Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking in New York City last month, Ghana’s Ambassador to the U.N. Harold Agyeman also directly addressed Syria.

Breaking earthquake relief down to its most basic component — money — Ambassador Agyeman warned that despite pledges from international donors, the current plans to assist quake victims “remain over 90 percent underfunded.”

“The people of Syria, therefore, continue to count on our support in this regard,” Ambassador Agyeman told the U.N. “In this time of misery and suffering and, we must not let them down.”

While much of the world is suffering right now, millions of defenseless people in Northwest Syria are amongst those most in need.

February’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake and its aftershocks — described as one of this century’s worst natural disasters — killed almost 46,00 people in Turkey, and more than 7,000 in Syria.

According to the U.N., more than 8,700 are injured in Syria, a country already ruined by 12 years of brutal conflict imposed by President Bashar al-Assad’s war policies. Before the deadly quake, 15.3 million people, or 70% of Syria’s population, needed some form of humanitarian assistance because of the conflict.

Today in the earthquake zone, four to five families are packed into tents, the risk of cholera is growing, food prices are skyrocketing, and women and children face increased harassment.

This is where Ghana can really help. While Assad does not run the region hardest hit by the quake, he still controls the main portions of the country and has been able to bend the U.N. Security Council to his evil will.

Several days into the quake, Assad gave the U.N. access to only two border crossings for aid to enter from Turkey. He never declared the destroyed area a catastrophe, nor did he deliver any assistance. Critical time to save lives of those under the rubble was lost — adding to the list of atrocities committed by this regime.

Prior to the quake, Assad also spent years stealing aid intended for those in need, “systematically diverting tens of millions a year,” according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Until 2024, Ghana is a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Swayed by Moscow and Beijing’s influence, the Council has failed the Syrian people for years, especially by ignoring the atrocities committed against the people of Syria by Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was in Syria that Putin perfected the tactics he would use in Ukraine.

I am a Syrian Doctor living in the United States, advocating for refugees and promoting democracy in my country of birth. I do not know Ambassador Agyeman but I have seen the courage he has shown in speaking up against Syria and Russia.

Last year he emphasized the need for accountability for violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention in Syria. He has also voiced support for U.N. Resolution 2254, which calls for a ceasefire and formal talks on a political transition in Syria.

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has also shown leadership, stressing this spring that Ghana will always go against great powers — like Russia — that trample on small nations – like Ukraine — and “within our modest means we will register our disapproval of that.”

Ghanaians as a people also have intimate knowledge of the horrors that Mother Nature can unleash and the compassion, conviction and resources needed to recover. We know President Akufo-Addo and Ambassador Agyeman are committed to doing what is right and using Ghana’s seat on the Council as a force for good in the world.

When the Security Council next convenes, they have a chance to use Ghana’s position to stand up to Assad and Putin and help millions of Syrians in need. We are confident that the spirit of Ghana will inspire their sense of compassion and courage.

Dr. Jawdat Abboud is a Syrian American medical doctor in Chicago but was born and raised in Deir-Ezzor, Syria. He is a board member of C4SSA, an NGO promoting democratic change in Syria and a partner of President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge and the National Prayer Breakfast.

Dr. Jawdat Abboud

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