Supporting the future of Syria and the region
The Syria crisis may have drifted from news headlines as the world remains engulfed in the COVID-19 pandemic, but the plight of the Syrian population remains urgent and ever more critical.
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The humanitarian response needed to support Syrians affect by the Syrian crisis is grossly underfunded. On the eve of the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London, Concern’s Simon Starling calls on the international community to step up.
The conflict in Syria is almost five years old. It is the biggest humanitarian catastrophe of our time. The suffering is immense – 13.5 million Syrians urgently need our help. But although the crisis deepens every day, the UN’s humanitarian response appeal for Syria is grossly underfunded. This means that necessities like food, medicine and clean water are not being provided to Syrians affected by the crisis – the basics most of us take for granted.
This worrying fact is highlighted in our recently published report: Paying the Price: why donors must take a new approach to the Syria crisis. Governments are not honouring their pledges to help Syrians. Crucial work to keep people safe, educated and earning a living during the crisis is poorly funded. We have also highlighted how donors have failed to adapt their plans as the crisis wears on.
Of course the Syria crisis presents huge challenges to the international community, the UN and humanitarian organisations like Concern. How can you work safely in a country with more than 1,000 armed groups? Even basic tasks such as getting food to people can be difficult and dangerous, as we saw in the recent siege of Madaya.
But these challenges also underline how terrible daily life is for many Syrian people. So we should redouble our efforts to get aid through and build a peace settlement. We also need governments around the world to support refugees fleeing the war and give them a bigger say in the decisions that affect them.
A major conference, Supporting Syria and the Region, will take place in London on 4 February. We need the international community to step up and show it cares about the people of Syria. Governments can do this by providing cash for the UN appeal, and making sure it arrives on time and is used to help the most vulnerable.
Donors must also take a more long-term, co-ordinated approach to helping refugees rebuild their shattered lives. If they don’t, tensions in host communities will rise, poverty will worsen and Syrians will lose hope that they will ever be able to return home.
If we are serious about giving proper support – and hope – to millions of Syrians, more action and ambition is needed. The change must start in London this week.
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