Humanitarian groups say world community is failing the people of Syria

By staff writers
31 Jan 2013

A coalition of six international humanitarian agencies has warned that the UN’s record $1.5 billion Syria humanitarian appeal remains only three per cent 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, say the NGOs.

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, they argue.

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 and Research Analyst at Islamic Relief added: "A total of 5 million people – one in four 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 three per cent 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."

The 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 programmes and External relations, People in Need (PIN) explained: "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."

The full signatories of the statement are Christian Aid, UK; Islamic Relief, UK; Norwegian Refugee Council, Norway; People in Need, Czech Republic; Refugees International, USA, and World Vision, UK.

[Ekk/3]

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