Russian State propaganda is endangering the lives of aid workers by portraying their convoys as “Trojan horses” for Syria’s insurgents.
Russia Today puts out this “report”:
The item does not show any opposition fighters in aid vehicles. Instead, it resorts to generic footage of men in balaclavas, carrying automatic weapons as they walk through a forest.
This is the convoluted “proof”: “The recent revelation that a suicide bombing in Aleppo is thought to have been carried out by a British man who had been part of an aid convoy.”
As RT’s reporter Sara Firth speaks to an aid worker, she makes clear the lack of substance for the charges: “Your humanitarian organization makes it very clear that it is a charity and that this isn’t a political project.”
But that doesn’t stop RT’s declaration of “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”, as the aid worker, “I cannot confirm that everyone who joins our convoy is humanitarian.”
Gunmen have fired on aid convoys in recent months as they tried to move into the Yarmouk section of Damascus and into the Old City of Homs, wounding an ambulance driver.
Aid workers have long warned that they become targets when their work is conflated with military or paramilitary operations, as in the case of Afghanistan.
The aid worker tells Firth, “If I knew of any (fighter) joining my convoy, I would completely discourage them…because that will affect the trust and credibility we have gained.”
However, any sympathy that Firth has — or concern that she has tarred the convoys while presenting no evidence, or thoughts that her report will become a regime excuse not to let aid into besieged areas — dissolves quickly, “Syria’s questions remain how to better ensure that those who come to help don’t end up staying to fight.”