Facebook Chat with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration David Robinson

On August 21, 2012, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration David Robinson participated in a live Facebook Chat to discuss humanitarian assistance to those affected by the violence in Syria.

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  1. I’m happy to be here today to answer your questions on humanitarian assistance relating to those who have been affected by the violence in Syria. I think today is going to be a really interesting discussion, and I hope that the answers I provide will help you better understand what America is doing to help. I also hope to take away a greater insight on the things that you care about. We have already received some great, and tough questions, and it is exciting to see so many people engaged on this topic.
  2. The chat covered a broad range of topics relating to humanitarian aid in Syria, including the United States' efforts to ensures that aid goes to those who need it: 
  3. Dear Mr. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Please let me know how are you going to guarantee that the humanitarian assistance will reach the neediest people who are trapped inside Syria (e.g., Homs, Hama…)? Kind regards
  4. It's always a challenge to make sure that those most in need receive the help they deserve. That challenge in magnified when we are not allowed regular access to where those civilians are trapped. We work with trusted international partners with dedicated professional staff who often put their lives at risk to reach the innocent victims of conflict and disaster. Again, we call on the parties to the conflict to allow access for those workers and to ensure their safety.
  5. Whether the United States would engage militarily in Syria:
  6. Dear Sir Principal Assistant Secretary David Rovinson,
    I am a Seouler, South Korean. I would like to pay my respective your country's humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees.
    I think as you know, ending the civill war of Syria is the best way to solve the problem. Therefore, it is important that setting up the No Fly Zones is completed in a timely fashion. The No Fly Zones are justified under international law in response to a situation of overwhelming humanitarian necessity.
    I'm sure that it will be the finishing blow to Assad regime which is on the defensive now. My question is that why the West is not taking similarly strong actions against Assad regime like Lybia, sir?
  7. The United States does not believe it is appropriate at this time to engage in military action. We are, however, actively pursuing an integrated policy that aims to support the opposition and hasten the end of the Assad regime by providing relief and assistant to innocent citizens inside Syria and neighboring countries and is planning for transition to the democratic government that Syrian wants. We are working with our international partners to bring about a resolution to this crisis.
  8. And how the United States is working with countries bordering Syria:
  9. How is the United States cooperating with the border countries, especially Turkey? What does the State Department think about Turkey's plan to house refugees inside the borders of Syria? How can the safety of these people be garanteed when the illegitimate al-Assad Regime has a monopoly on air & artillery power?
  10. The United States recognizes the generous response of the Turkish government and the people of Turkey in housing and caring for victims of Assad's violence. We think the most important response at the moment in the region is that governments in the region keep their borders open to allow Syrians and others to flee the violence and find safe haven, and we will continue to work with those governments and our international partners to provide the assistance those victims need.
  11. Some participants, like Linda Vasquez, wanted to know how they could help directly. 
  12. I am just a single mom, but I watch world events unfold and grow concerned. This particular situation, of course, is serious and one that bothers me greatly. How can the average person help people in need in places like Syria? I think about the disasters all over the world, and the war torn countries a lot. I realize that not everyone cares, but I do and a lot of my friends do, too. How do we help the US to help the people in need here and around the world?
  13. First, I would like to say thank you for being so engaged in this issue, and particpating in this forum is one way of making sure that our support for the Syrian people is well known. The United States has consistently demonstrated leadership in humantarian response and it's important that we continue with the support of the American people in providing help to innocent people worldwide.
  14. The best way one can help those affected by a disaster overseas is to make a monetary donation to a reputable humanitarian organization working in the disaster zone. There are several ways that you can identify the right organization for your donation. You can find more information at  http://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/working-crises-and-conflict/crisis-response/how-help .
  15. Reactions from the public were often very positive. In response to our answer, Ms. Vasquez had this to say: 
  16. Thank you for doing what you do. My country is not perfect. No country is. But I am incredibly proud of the fact that we do try to help those in need. The work you are doing is not just a nice idea. It is vital. We are a country that has been greatly blessed. It is our responsibility to share those blessings. Knowing that you are doing precisely that work makes me glad I I am an American. Your advice is also greatly appreciated. Every one of us must do what we can to help others. Despite what many people think, Americans aren't indifferent to suffering. We just don't always know how to help. Once we do know, we tend to act. Thank you for letting me know how to support the crucial work you do.
  17. For more on the work being done by the U.S. Department of State to address the humanitarian efforts in Syria and around the world, please visit the  Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration's page on State.gov, follow the Bureau on Facebook, or on Twitter @StatePRM
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