That ain’t right: Al Assad using UNHCR tents

Few days ago, facebook pages, which a lot of it support the opposition forces in Syria, published this photo mentioning that it is a pro-Bashar Al Assad election campaign tent, a tent that was originally meant to be given to the Syrian refugees.

This photo surfaced online after a “Global Overview 2014” report was published by IDMC, part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), at the United Nations in Geneva, alongside the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which revealed that the Syrian civil war, in its fourth year, is being held responsible for the surge in those displaced in their own country, a rise of 4.5 million (15.6%) on 2012.

Getting back to the photo, we are going to tackle each hypothesis and analyzing its elements one by one.

 The first element taken in consideration is the TV logo of Addounia TV that is shown at the left upper corner of the photo.

First thing to know, Addounia TV no longer exist, at least not on a satellite channel but rather as a local channel only, according to two separated articles on Al-Bawaba and El-Nashra, news websites, Addounia TV stopped beaming its signal around the world from around mid-2012, and apart from that, when checking the channel’s live feed directly on their website, we can see another TV station SAMA TV, a channel that was established on “the ruins” of Addounia, after its broadcast was broken off on Arabsat and Nilesat, in addition to the being included inside the US blacklist of sanctions by the US Department of state in May 2013, so there no big possibility that this photo was taken this year.

(“Addounia is a sister channel of Sama” – Wikipedia / Addounia FB)

(“Addounia is a sister channel of Sama” – Wikipedia / Addounia FB)

After taking another look on the logo, you can see that there is something fishy about the look and position of the logo.

The logo is too much cornered, usually there are few spaces of margin between the sides of the image and the logo itself. Looking back at some Youtube videos captured from Addounia shows that not only the position of the logo is different, but also the logo itself isn’t similar to the one in the photo. In addition to that issue also, where is the news ticker below?

Tackling the second element, we can see that, yes it’s the UNHCR logo all over the tent, but from a simple search on the UNHCR photo stream on their Facebook/Flickr/Instagram accounts and their website, we could never find a tent that has a similar structure, especially in the Middle East or Syria itself.

Almost all the tents were similar to these ones in the photos below:

(Hassan Jarah / AFP – Getty Images)

(A.Branthwaite / UNHCR)

So with these information, we could say that this isn’t an original UNHCR tent, but it’s a tent made out of several sheets that has the UNHCR logo on it, at least.

The third element, which are basically the photos of al Assad and logos, we all know that Bashar Al-Assad lunched a re-election campaign under the slogan “SAWA”, Arabic term of “Together”, with billboards raised in the capital and on promotional spots being broadcast on state television, and yet in this particular photo, there is nothing we can see that it is related to “SAWA” campaign, not either the word, or the logo, or the signature of Al Assad.

(SAWA / Facebook)

What we can conclude is, this photo was probably taken in 2007, when Al Assad was re-elected for the second time, why not in 2000? Because likely there will be a lot of photos of Bashar’s father Hafez, who passed away in June 2000, and why not in 2014? because there no “SAWA” slogans.

When this post was being written, a Lebanese newspaper – The Daily Star – , has published this photo with a more skeptical point of view, thank GOD, and tried to actually contact the UNHCR to get a comment on it.

“A spokesperson for the U.N.’s refugee agency, Adrian Edwards said there was no way to ascertain whether the photo – a screen grab from a pro-regime television channel – was genuine.
“There is no way for UNHCR to confirm the authenticity of this photo,” Edwards said”.

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