United Nations staff spent $9.5 million at the Four Seasons in Damascus in 2016

Four Seasons hotel in Damascus.
(Image credit: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nations recorded spending $9.5 million at the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus, Syria, in 2016. In doing so, the organization put money straight into the pockets of the Syrian government, which co-owns the lodging, Bloomberg Politics reports.

In addition to the eye-popping hotel bill, the U.N. awarded telecommunications and security contracts to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's cousin and donated money to a charity organized by Assad's wife. In total, $18 million flowed from the U.N. to Assad-linked businesses.

"Any money going to Assad and his allies shows that the U.N. is not impartial but is in fact helping the largest player in the conflict," Kathleen Fallon, a spokesperson for the Syria Campaign advocacy group, told Bloomberg Politics. "The regime has been responsible for the majority of the deaths, and they are being rewarded. It sends the wrong message."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

The U.N. does not have to follow restrictions imposed by member states; instead, the organization uses its own blacklist. "Still, the distribution of funds to Assad allies will further fuel criticism that the world body has failed badly over Syria, where more than six years of civil war have left at least 400,000 people dead," Bloomberg Politics writes.

The U.N.'s chief spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, explained that the Four Seasons costs resulted from "limited options." "That's one place in Damascus that has been cleared for security," Dujarric said. The full U.N. report can be read here.

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us