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Humanitarian groups: International community is 'failing the people of Syria'

Source: Christian Aid - UK - Tue, 29 Jan 2013 02:18 PM
Author: Johanna Rogers
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

On the eve of a key meeting of donor counties, a coalition of six international humanitarian agencies has warned that the UN’s record $1.5 billion Syria humanitarian appeal remains only 3% funded, and some of the world’s richest countries have failed to provide sufficient support.

Almost a quarter of the world’s GDP is concentrated in six countries: Brazil, Japan, China, South Korea, Russia and Mexico. However these countries are failing the people of Syria with contributions considerably lower than other countries with comparable wealth.

The United States, the UK and France also have to act to ensure they uphold a track record of doing their part to meet urgent needs.

Janet Symes, Christian Aid’s Head of Middle East Region, said: ‘Syria is currently facing an overwhelming humanitarian crisis and many of the world’s richer countries are not stepping up to help. Currently the basic needs of millions of civilians are not being met.

'Prices of flour and fuel are rising and there are large scale shortages of bread. Over 60,000 people are reported killed and millions of homes have been damaged or destroyed, leaving people forced to sleep in the streets, in mosques and in schools.’

Reyhana Patel, Policy & Research Analyst at Islamic Relief said: ‘A total of 5 million people – 1 in 4 Syrians – are in need of humanitarian assistance both outside and inside the country. The international community is failing the people of Syria.

'The UN’s emergency appeal for $1.5 billion is only 3% funded. All governments now need to contribute at least their fair share and ensure that the agencies responding to the Syria crisis have the necessary funds. It is time to stand up and be counted.’

Agencies have also called for a more coordinated and unified international response to the crisis. At present there are multiple actors funding and delivering humanitarian aid with weak coordination across many areas.

Elizabeth Rasmusson, Secretary General of NRC from Norwegian Refugee Council said: ‘Contingency planning for the regional refugee response has been insufficient. Estimated numbers have repeatedly been exceeded, and the increased winter needs have not been sufficiently planned for.

'Thousands of Syrian refugees continue to arrive every day in neighbouring countries, yet the humanitarian system does not have the capacity to keep up with the growing demands on registration, coordination, or the shelter for new arrivals. Refugee hosting countries need immediate support of the international community to fill the humanitarian gaps and keep their borders open.’

Meanwhile inside Syria the existing humanitarian response does not match the reality on the ground where the frontlines are shifting and many of those in need of assistance lie outside areas of the Syrian government’s control.

In opposition-held areas many Syrian civil society organisations have emerged but have found it impossible to apply and receive funding from institutional donors.

Marek Stys, Head of Emergency programs and External relations, People in Need (PIN) said: ‘Donors must adjust their funding protocols to match the realities people face on the ground across Syria.

'The UN must step up its efforts to meet the needs of civilians in both government-held and opposition-held territory inside the country.’

-ends-

List of signatories: Christian Aid, UK; Islamic Relief, UK; Norwegian Refugee Council, Norway; People in Need, Czech Republic; Refugees International, USA; World Vision, UK

For more information or to arrange an interview please Jo Rogers on jrogers@christian-aid.org or 020 7523 2460 or 24 hour press duty phone – 07850 242950 

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around some 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. We believe that the underlying causes of poverty were made by, and can be ended by, human action. Our strategy for building the power of us all to end poverty is embodied in a new report ‘Partnership for Change’: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/2012_strategy.pdf

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 125 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.  Further details at http://actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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