WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the Syrian government’s use of violence against its own citizens, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today introduced legislation to authorize U.S. humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians and strengthen U.S. support for a transition in Syria to a democratic government.
“The international community must provide humanitarian support to the people of Syria as they face unspeakable acts of violence by their government,” said Senator Casey. “My legislation will strengthen U.S. efforts to provide relief to the Syrian people and to refugees who have left the country. Stability in this region is critical to U.S. interests and the U.S. must focus on both the current tragedy in today’s Syria as well as the significant challenges that will come with a political transition. This bill also calls upon the State Department to begin planning to address the challenges inherent to a post-Assad Syria, including the disposition of Syria’s chemical weapons and the demobilization of armed groups.”
Senator Casey’s Syria Humanitarian and Democratic Transition Act would:
- Establish a Special Envoy for Syria: The bill would require the appointment of a Special Envoy for Syria to coordinate U.S. engagement with the country and to ensure that the United States Government supports efforts to bring about a democratic transition in Syria. The Special Envoy would direct U.S. humanitarian activities, provide detailed assessments of challenges and progress on the ground in Syria, and pursue an inclusive democratic future for Syria that protects the rights of all ethnic and religious minorities.
- Help secure non-conventional weapons stockpiles in Syria: The bill states that it is U.S. policy to support efforts to identify, recover, and dispose of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons and missiles stockpiled in Syria. It encourages the U.S. to work with regional partners to develop a plan to identify and secure all weapons stockpiles, recover and dispose of all non-conventional weapons, and prevent the illicit sale or transfer of weapons out of Syria in order to preclude regional weapons proliferation.
- Increase U.S. assistance to victims of the Syrian conflict: The bill would authorize enhanced financial support for humanitarian activities inside and outside Syria, including the provision of food, water and medical supplies. It would also encourage the international community to provide greater support to Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.
- Support a political transition and the establishment of an inclusive, democratic government of Syria: The bill would encourage democratically-oriented political opposition groups to agree upon a political transition plan that is inclusive and reflects the democratic aspirations of all Syrians The bill would authorize bilateral assistance to Syria to support institutional capacity building, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, resettlement of internally displaced persons and refugees, and humanitarian and development activities.