Frequently Asked Questions
Is Ms Suheir Atassi still the manager of the ACU?
No, Ms Suheir Atassi assumes no position in the ACU. She resigned since April 3, 2015.
When was the ACU established, and is it affiliated with the Coalition or to the Syria Interim Government (SIG)?
The resolution to create the ACU was taken by the Friends of the Syrian People in Morocco at the end of 2012. Its birth came from the need to find a humanitarian and relief arm to coordinate the assistance provided by the donor countries to the inside of Syria. It was on this basis that the license was officially issued in Turkey and it was given the name: the Syrian ACU, on 20/9/2013.
The unit is an independent entity as a humanitarian organization, and it has a well-defined relationship with the National Coalition for Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (Etilaf). A relationship that was agreed upon in writing and was signed on March 8, 2017; according to which the coalition has authorization to appoint the CEO only, meanwhile the unit maintains its internal independence in as far as the taking actions and deciding upon the running of its works.
As for the ACU’s relationship with SIG, an MOU was signed on 4 March 2017 to pinpoint the areas for mutual cooperation, partnership, taking complementary roles and the mechanism for so doing.
What is the area in which the ACU is active?
The ACU has set out shouldering five core functions, which it has adopted and incorporated in its work strategy through carrying out several programs.
The functions that the ACU is shouldering:
- Information Management
- Projects Management
- Monitoring and Evaluation
- Capacity Building
For the delivery of those functions, it was necessary to reflect them on several programs, such as:
- Food Security: 811 projects were supervised.
- Environmental sanitation, hygiene and water: 81 projects were supervised.
- Education: 63 projects were supervised.
- Health: 471 projects were supervised.
- Civil Defense: 83 projects were supervised.
- Protection: 10 projects were supervised.
- Shelters: 132 projects were supervised.
What areas are you working in?
The ACU worked and is operating in most of the Syrian governorates. However, it has not coordinated any projects so far in the governorates of Damascus, Suwayda and Tartous. Noting that, the scope of the work in which the ACU may sometimes carry out its activities is subject to expansions or getting narrowed; depending on the security situation and the forces controlling certain areas. And yet, sometimes an activity is carried out in covert, due to the security conditions prevailing in the certain area. All things considered, the unit has a large number of enumerators, with a number of 571 enumerators distributed in various liberated areas.
What are your most important projects and programs?
Our top list programs are:
Food Security Program: A program to support wheat and its cultivation. This is in addition to supporting vegetable farming projects in some of the besieged areas. A number of 82 enumerators and staff members are shouldering this program.
Early Warning Alert and Response [to Epidemics] Program: This program monitors and controls communicable diseases and is executed by 250 employees working inside Syria. This is in addition to issuing reports on response plans periodically and implementing such plans as well as vaccination campaigns in accordance with these reports.
Environmental & Water Sanitation Program: In this program, water quality is put under monitoring, and on basis of which response plans are carried out, or assistance is given to various actors, by means of training and making water quality checks. This program has 19 experts at in the inside of Syria.
Nutritional surveillance program: This program aims to investigate the nutritional status of children between 6 and 59 months in 100 medical centers located in eight governorates.
The Information Management Unit (IMU): This unit is the central source hub of information for many international and local organizations. The IMU is issuing reports on various topics and themes periodically, such as the annual needs assessment report, “Syrian Dynamic Monitoring Report (DYNAMO). Besides flash reports like: The Chemical Attack on Khan Shaikhon as well as the Forced Displacement from al-Wa’r city neighborhood. Noting that the IMU has in its help 120 enumerators to collect data from the inside.
Monitoring and Evaluation Program: It is through this channel that the ACU issues monitoring and evaluation reports on the project it is shouldering. In addition to this, the ACU’s M&E team provides monitoring and evaluation services to third parties on programs implemented by other organizations and institutions by entering into MOUs for that purpose.
Who are the main supporting bodies of the ACU?
The ACU has no specific sponsoring or supporting party and this has made it possible to engage multiple donors such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Britain, the UAE, France, Norway and Italy, and international organizations such as the Bill Gates Foundation, the Department for International Development of the British Government and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ)
What was the amount of the grants you have received and how much is your administrative expenses?
The total value of the grants provided in favor of the inside of Syria, through the ACU, was over US $ 250 million, and the percentage of the administrative expenses falls in line with the international accepted standards adopted by the humanitarian organizations, which has not gone beyond 15%.
What are your goals and vision?
Our Vision: To be the leading institution for planning and supporting decision-making for humanitarian assistance and sustainable development of Syria.
Our Mission: We work for a decent life for all Syrians through managing and coordinating information and support.
Our objectives are:
- Assessing the humanitarian needs and achieving stabilization in Syria.
- Coordinate with all humanitarian actors to achieve an optimal effective response plan.
- Promote resilience and support sustainable development.
- Promote self-reliance on local resources.
- Advocacy of humanitarian issues and coordination of emergency support.
- Support early community recovery and reconstruction
In the event of the fall of the regime and your returning back to Syria, what is the fate of the ACU?
The ACU is to be an integral part of a recognized transitional government or any other national body as a result of a just political solution that guarantees the dignity and rights of the Syrian people. Our vision of the ACU is to be either the Syrian planning commission or the Syrian development agency.
What is the role that the ACU will take and play in rebuilding Syria after its liberation?
Eventually, the ACU will become an integral part of a recognized transitional government or any other national body created as a result of a just political solution that guarantees the dignity and rights of the Syrian people. Our outlook about the identity of the ACU in this context is that the unit will either be the State Planning Commission or the Syrian Development Agency.
Is it true that you are working in the areas under the ISIS or the Kurdish control?
No, the ACU does not operate in the areas controlled by the ISIS or the Kurdish forces. However, there is one single exception: which is the monitoring of communicable diseases and implementation of vaccination programs through independent medical teams, with the help of the enumerators operating in these areas who collect data to assess the people’s needs and identify the priorities for these areas. This program is implemented under generally recognized international standards practices; whereby all areas are provided with the necessary vaccines without discrimination.
Is it true that there were theft and embezzlement in the ACU during the previous period?
Upon having the ACU restructured in 2015, we have followed strict accountability measures; accordingly, in addition to our internal auditors’ work, the unit is subject to an annual external audit by Deloitte. Our audit results for 2015 showed that we have clean records and that all of our expenses are duly accounted for.
There are rumors that unreasonable high salaries are given to the employees. What is the truth behind this?
Since the beginning of 2015, the salaries of all employees have been reviewed and a clear salary scale has been put in place, taking into consideration the academic qualifications and years of experience of the staff members and in such a way that fairness in salaries is maintained much as they strike a balance with the payroll of other organizations.
Is the hiring process built on favoritism grounds as rumored, or else the efficiency and professionalism are the factors taken into consideration?
As part of our new strategy, the ACU is following a clear recruitment policy through its Human Resources Section. Additionally, from time to time specialized consultants update this policy to ensure the recruitment of professional staff members and benefit from their experience.
You are being accused of collecting information in favor of foreign parties and intelligence sources?
Our reports are all publicly available and accessible to the public on our website. We are concerned with the humanitarian issues, needs assessments, infrastructure, early recovery and stability support. Our goal is to provide information to all actors in the humanitarian and stabilization fields to help response plans be put in such a way that they are developed to meet the needs and in line with the priorities.
What is the 2017 wheat project?
The project is a continuation and complementary to the ACU Strategic plan aiming at supporting wheat cultivation; a project which dates back to 2015. In this year the project aims at farming an area of 8000 hectares (80.000 dunums) with the strategic wheat crop in 8 governorates for 2016/2017. The project supports wheat farmers to produce high-quality wheat, improve food security and maintain local wheat varieties. The project is a partnership between the Qatar Red Crescent, the ACU and the General Organization for Seed Multiplication and with the technical support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
What does the Information Management Unit do?
Billions of dollars have been poured into relief work for the Syrian people. However, without a systematic approach to identify the needs on the ground and without appropriate coordination mechanism, there will be growing risks of delivering biased, uneven and inadequate support. We want to make sure that needy Syrian people from all walks of life receive equal support. We further want to double the value of support by staying away from wasteful spending and intermediaries. For example, there is growing needs in the shelter sector due to the lack of coordination in the camps. The IMU issues various reports covering these needs by following a systematic methodology to ensure that the information is accurate and carefully studied.
What is the Early Warning and Epidemic Response Network?
EWARN is an approach running in close parallel with the EWARS network upheld by the Syrian regime. Our network works on monitoring epidemic diseases in Syria and was established in 2013 as one of the ACU programs. The program produces weekly epidemiological reports and a weekly report on polio surveillance. One of the successes stories that the network is proud of is the discovery of the polio epidemic in 2013 and non-wild poliomyelitis in Deir-Ez-Zor and Ar-Raqqa in 2017.
Who is carrying out the vaccination program in Syria?
The vaccination campaigns are conducted by the Syrian Vaccination Team; a team which was set up by an initiative taken by the ACU and which engulf all medical organizations and governmental bodies working in this field. the ACU’s contribution in this team is about 50%.
Are you embarking on an environmental sanitation program?
Yes, we are. Our program provides support for people to have access to safe drinking water, improve the sanitation services and hygiene promotion in order to ensure a decease-free healthy environment. The information this program produced is also a reference for all relevant international and local organizations.
The program aims to:
- Assess the needs of the water and environmental sanitation sector.
- Water quality control and water sterilization process.
- Raising awareness and health education.
How many employees do you have and where are they distributed?
The number of employees in Turkey office is approximately 50, while the number of the staff members in the inside of Syria is approximately 571, distributed in 12 governorates.
Do you have any affiliation with a religious movement or a political party?
Our mission is humanitarian entirely, and this means that we have nothing to do with any religious movement or political party, neither do we support any.
Does your team have Syrian women and on what basis are they recruited?
In the context of our new strategy, we embarked on attracting professionals across the board regardless of gender. We now have 13 female employees, four of whom are department managers who were recruited on basis of their meeting the job requirements for each position.