Revelations about the way Oxfam handled sexual misconduct by senior staff in Haiti and Chad has rightly led to outrage. Both the UK government and the European Commission have threatened to withdraw funding if high ethical standards are not met. Thousands of people across Europe are cancelling their contributions to the organisation. While I would be cautious about rashly pulling back funding from a charity which does such vital work, we should never stay silent when faced with evidence of wrongdoing.

Yet, this is exactly what we are doing in Syria. On 27 February 2018, it was reported that Syrian women are routinely forced to undergo sexual exploitation and abuse in return for aid. The assessment by the United Nations Population Fund revealed the high levels of gender-based violence faced by girls and women across Syria, using highly corroborated testimonies and evidence. Shockingly, the practice is not just widespread - with in some areas nearly half of women having facing abuse from the hands of those delivering aid - it has been going on for many years.

In some areas, nearly half of women report facing abuse from the hands of those delivering aid.

According to aid workers, the UN was made aware of such practices as early as in 2015 - but turned a blind eye. Humanitarian news agency IRIN on Monday backed up allegations that the organisation has repeatedly shelved direly needed reforms to its humanitarian aid in Syria. But it also provides important clues as to the source of the problem, reminding us of how the Syrian Assad regime continues to actively prevent the majority of UN aid convoys from entering rebel-held areas. This means that aid ends up in the often abusive hands of uncontrollable middlemen.

In response, one might ask whether working through third parties, even if unreliable, is better than not delivering any aid at all. This is the wrong question to ask.

If one thing has become clear over the course of the now seven-year old Syrian conflict, it is that the Assad regime has consistently used humanitarian access as a weapon of war to starve those opposing his rule into submission. He has been able to do so because we let him, allowing successive UN Security Council Resolutions ordering cross-border and cross-line aid delivery to remain unenforced. The hell that is Eastern Ghouta, where fighting continues despite attempts at a ceasefire, offers an apt illustration.

The Assad regime has consistently used humanitarian access as a weapon of war to starve those opposing his rule into submission.