By Katie Nguyen
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Six months after launching an appeal for Syria's humanitarian crisis, an alliance of 14 British charities has raised 20 million pounds ($32 million) so far, it said on Thursday.
The head of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), Saleh Saeed, said 80 percent of funds in the first three months of the appeal was spent inside Syria, helping to provide food, water, sanitation, medical care and shelter to 108,000 people.
But the portion of money spent inside the country may "change over time", he said, without indicating whether it was expected to rise or fall.
DEC said aid to Syrians was being provided mainly by DEC member agencies working through partner organisations.
International aid agencies have been struggling to reach many of the 4.25 million people inside Syria who have been forced from their homes by a conflict that started in 2011 as peaceful protests against four decades of rule by President Bashar al-Assad's family.
A further 2 million Syrians have sought refuge overwhelmingly in neighbouring countries Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
Taking part in a Twitterview with Thomson Reuters Foundation, Saeed said: "Access not getting better & some signs it is getting worse but situation very fluid. Welcome UK call today at U.N. for all parties to improve humanitarian access."
In response to a tweet asking what it was that shocked him most about the Syrian crisis, Saeed replied: "my visit to refugees in lebanon lives destroyed."
"also personally the debate that somehow ok for victims to be killed by bombs & guns but red line for gas!" he added.
Ever since U.S. President Barack Obama said a year ago that chemical weapons would be a "red line", the focus on these weapons by the United States has been a sore point for many Syrians, who say it disregards the tens of thousands of people already killed in every other way imaginable.
The debate was revived after an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack – which Washington blames on Assad's forces – raised the prospect of a U.S.-led military air strike.
The DEC raises funds for crises in appeals that are the only ones of their kind in Britain.
The last one, for East Africa's hunger crisis in 2011, raised 79 million pounds ($127 million) – and the one before that raised 71 million pounds ($114 million) to help people affected by flooding in Pakistan in 2010.
In reply to a question about particular funding challenges in the next few years, DEC's Saeed said raising money for chronic humanitarian emergencies like in Democratic Republic of Congo was always "very very hard, as are most conflicts".
He also asked whether aid agencies could raise money sooner to prevent food crises that typically build up slowly.
To read the full Twitterview, go to #AskDEC, or click here.