Leder av Flyktninghjelpen, Jan Egeland, vakte oppsikt da han under en tale i State Department gikk inn for at humanitære organisasjoner må lever hjelp også i områder kontrollert av ISIS.

State Department holder hvert år et møte for internasjonale hjelpeorganisasjoner. Jan Egeland var en av talerne.

Then, Egeland offered a slightly provocative addendum: any aid going into Syria, he said, must include provisions for civilians living in parts of the country now controlled by the so-called Islamic State. The room went notably quiet.

Det kan ha vært flere grunner til tausheten. En er at slik hjelp kan styrke ISIS, den andre at det kan sette hjelpearbeidernes liv i fare. ISIS har halshogd flere og holder enda flere som gisler.

Egeland sier til Daily Beast at det er viktig at ikke koalisjonen mot ISIS blander inn humanitær hjelp.

Men hvordan kan man levere hjelp under kontroll av en organisasjon som fører total krig?


In an interview this week, Egeland strongly defended the propriety of delivering aid to unwholesome parts of northern Syria. That aid, he said, must be stepped up, not scared off, and it must be disengaged from any political aims, including counterterrorism, he said.

“We cannot, and will not, pay bribes to any actor,” Egeland insisted in our phone conversation. “And we cannot let any actor direct our aid or take control over our aid.” But, that said, “I don’t think there’s a proper recognition that there are six to eight million people in those areas”—northern Syria—»who need aid. What needs to be done now is a careful examination of how we can maintain some channel of aid and support to the millions of people who will live under the control of the Islamic State. And it’s extremely important that those who now have taken on the Islamic State militarily do not mix in humanitarian organizations or tools in the fight against terror.”

Amerikansk lov er helt klar: Det er forbudt å levere hjelp til områder under terroristers kontroll. Man har ingen innflytelse over hvordan hjelpen brukes, og den kan like gjerne styrke terrorgruppen.

American terrorism laws are strict and clear: aid agencies may not provide any form of “material support” to terrorist groups, including humanitarian supplies that fall into their hands. But humanitarian practice is messy and chaotic: in conflict zones, need is urgent, and allegiances are not always evident until much later.

I takt med ISIS grusomheter både mot lokalbefolkningen og utlendinger, har hjelpeorganisasjonen nedjustert hjelpen. Egeland mener det motstatte burde skjedd. Han har ingen moralske skrupler.


A second aid official said, “we’ve had to dramatically reduce the aid that we’ve delivered in north Syria due to the increased danger to our staff and the difficulty in monitoring the aid once it’s been distributed to ensure that it is civilians alone who benefited from this assistance.”

Egeland points to this drop-off, not the prospect of occasional contacts with terrorists, as his greatest concern. “I think there should have been much more cross-border aid deliveries, much earlier,” he said. As for engagement with terrorist groups, this is simply “the name of the game”: “There will have to be contacts, yes, if support will be provided there. You talk to all sides, and that’s how access is provided to those who need it most.”

Egeland mener regjeringer forsøker å avskrekke hjelpeorganisasjoner fra å hjelpe. De spiller på frykt. Det er en merkelig påstand.

“I have always found that government armed actors and opposition armed actors specialize in scaring us, and we specialize in being scared,” he said. “All we’re thinking of is, ‘Can we lose access? Can something go wrong?’ Instead of doing what we must, because it’s the right thing to do.”