U.S. Department of State
Morgan Ortagus, Department Spokesperson
March 25, 2020
In light of threats posed by COVID-19, the United States reiterates its calls for the Assad regime to take concrete steps to protect the fate of thousands of civilians, including U.S. citizens, being held arbitrarily in overcrowded and inhumane conditions in regime detention centers. These conditions are prime for the quick spread of the virus which would have devastating impacts on vulnerable detainees who are already in poor health after months or even years of torture, malnutrition, and lack of access to medical care. We demand the immediate release of all civilians arbitrarily detained – including women, children, and the elderly. Additionally, the regime must also immediately grant impartial and independent entities, including medical and health organizations, access to regime detention facilities.
If the Assad regime maintains its current campaign against the Syrian people, it risks exacerbating the spread of the COVID-19 virus to epic proportions, endangering the lives of Syrians throughout the country. The regime must cease all hostilities and allow the unabated flow of humanitarian assistance to IDP camps within Syria, in addition to releasing tens of thousands of civilians arbitrarily detained in regime detention centers in order to mitigate the disastrous spread of the virus. The regime should take immediate measures to protect the Syrian people, as well as U.S. citizens in Syria, from the devastating impacts of this pandemic.