Australians’ urgent help is desperately needed by the Syrian people to help prevent lives being lost as the humanitarian crisis escalates with 7000 people fleeing the country every day, according to Oxfam Australia.
With an average six people killed by the conflict every hour in Syria, and at least 93,000 lives already lost, the international aid agency says the crisis has spiralled out of control.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said a staggering 8.5 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance, but a shortage of funds meant millions of Syrians were missing out on vital aid such as food, water and sanitation facilities.
She said Australians might not be aware of the perilous conditions faced by Syrian refugees because donations to Oxfam Australia’s Syria appeal, which are currently just $60,000, had been slower than normal.
“Syrian refugees are living in cramped, often squalid conditions and, as summer temperatures begin to soar, the risk of a public health crisis is looming,” she said.
“It’s the worst humanitarian crisis facing the world today. Oxfam is desperately trying to raise US$59 million (AUD $65 million) to respond to the rising humanitarian needs for Syrian refugees who have fled across the border into Jordan and Lebanon.
“Oxfam’s global appeal for Syria has raised $19.5 million – only a third of our target. To help reach our target, and prevent further lives from being lost, we’re calling on Australians to dig deep and give generously to support the people of Syria.”
Dr Szoke said Oxfam had already reached 120,000 refugees with life-saving assistance in Lebanon and Jordan, but more funds were urgently needed to reach 650,000 people in the coming months.
Last month, the United Nations launched a $5.2 billion appeal for the humanitarian response in Syria and neighbouring countries – its biggest humanitarian appeal ever – but this appeal remains just over 30 per cent funded.
The Australian Government has been a generous donor, giving $78.5 million to the Syria crisis since it began in 2011.
“Oxfam urges the Australian Government to continue responding to the rising needs in Syria, and to set a good example internationally by giving its fair share to the new UN appeal for Syria,” Dr Szoke said.
Notes to editors: Oxfam has Australian staff working on the Syria crisis in Lebanon and Jordan who are available for interview.
To donate to Oxfam Australia’s Syria Crisis Appeal, go to www.oxfam.org.au or phone 1800 034 034
For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia media coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0412 560 584 or firstname.lastname@example.org