The United States supports the Syrian people's aspirations for a transition to a democratic, inclusive, and peaceful Syria. But President Bashar al-Assad's refusal to give up power continues to take a heavy toll on the Syrian people.
According to the United Nations, more than 60,000 Syrians have been killed in the nearly two years since the violence began. In the last month alone, the number of Syrians seeking refuge in neighboring countries has risen sharply. More than 800,000 Syrians have registered or are waiting to register as refugees since the crisis began. An additional 2.5 million people remain internally displaced.
In an effort to meet the most immediate need of the Syrian people, the United States is providing $365 million in humanitarian assistance. Over $200 million of this total goes to address critical needs inside Syria, including emergency medical care and medical supplies, food, safe drinking water, and winterization supplies like blankets and heaters in all of Syria’s 14 governorates. This aid also helps hundreds of thousands of people who have fled to the safety of neighboring countries, helping to meet basic needs of food, water, shelter, and winter supplies.
On the diplomatic front, the United States continues to support the Syrian Opposition Coalition as its charts a course toward a democratic Syria. The coalition, which includes opponents of the Assad regime from across the political and ethno-sectarian spectrum, is stepping up its outreach to women, minorities, religious leaders and civil society.
The coalition has also begun to develop formal structures and plans for a democratic political transition that protects the rights, dignity and aspirations of all Syrians. In his February 2nd meeting with Coalition leaders, Vice President Joe Biden urged Syrian Opposition Coalition leader Mouaz al-Khatib to maintain unity among the leadership, to isolate extremist elements within the broader opposition, and to reach out to a broad range of communities inside Syria.
The United States is also providing over $50 million of nonlethal support to the unarmed Syrian opposition, including emergency local and national democratic institutions, and nonsectarian civic groups.
Assad's time is over. The future now belongs to the people of Syria who long for peace, democracy, and respect for human rights.