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As ministers gather today in St Petersburg for the G20 summit the shadow of Syria will loom heavily over proceedings.
The G20 is ostensibly an economic forum but talks of how best to resolve the Syria conflict will dominate sideline discussions.
Yet it’s unlikely world leaders will be debating the funding shortfall of the money pledged to Syria internationally. For its two major appeals this year, the UN says it has received less than half of the $4.4bn pledged by governments for the Syria crisis response.
The UK is the second-largest donor to Syria, committing £348m in humanitarian aid and UK international development secretary, Justine Greening, has urged the rest of the world to follow suit.
“It’s right that Britain continues to help people who have been traumatised by violence and grief,” she wrote on Tuesday. “Now we need the rest of the world to follow our lead and honour their funding promises.”
More than two million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries, over four million have been internally displaced, and eight million are in need of life-saving assistance.
The situation isn’t helped by the fact that much aid is simply not reaching a huge number of Syrians, especially those in opposition-controlled areas of the country. While Syria has permitted some aid to be taken to opposition-held areas from Damascus, it continues to refuse permission for any cross-border assistance.
“Much more needs to be done to ensure people inside Syria get the healthcare they desperately need,” says Leigh Daynes, Executive Director of Doctors of the World UK. “Our volunteer medics in Lebanon and Jordan are doing the best they can to help those who’ve fled Syria but they’re powerless to help many who desperately need them inside the country."
It’s estimated 10.5 million people in the north of Syria alone are not getting enough aid, more than the entire population of London.
“We call on all parties to the conflict to minimise civilian casualties and to allow medical workers immediate and unimpeded access to all civilians who need our assistance and protection,” says Daynes. “Humanitarian workers have a right to be protected from attack, intimidation or detention.”
The international community’s biggest priority now is to bring all sides together to achieve a political solution to end the conflict and give Syrians a peaceful and democratic future.
“Only an immediate cessation in hostilities will enable us to turn promises into action in Syria,” says Daynes. “Only then can aid workers be given unfettered access to all those who need us.”