International aid agency Oxfam welcomes Australia’s announcement of an additional $21.5 million in humanitarian assistance for people affected by the conflict in Syria.
With the monthly death toll of the Syria conflict now at 5,000 – thousands more than the toll during the height of the Iraq war – Oxfam says this is the worst humanitarian crisis facing the world today.
“Oxfam welcomes Australia’s commitment to provide desperately needed funds for the Syrian people caught up in this terrible crisis,” said Oxfam Australia’s humanitarian advocacy lead Steph Cousins.
“This funding will make a dramatic difference on the ground for millions of women, men and children facing deteriorating conditions inside Syria, and those seeking refuge in neighbouring countries like Lebanon and Jordan.
“The scale of the growing refugee crisis is staggering. In Lebanon, more than 10 per cent of the population are Syrian refugees. Meanwhile, the Zaatari refugee camp – home to 100,000 refugees – is now Jordan’s fifth largest city.”
The UN’s appeal for Syria remains significantly underfunded, with just 36 per cent of the $5.2 billion target received so far.
Oxfam says this gap in funding means hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees are without adequate shelter, and millions of people inside Syria cannot access basic essentials like water and healthcare.
With no end in sight to the conflict, Ms Cousins says Australia can still do much more to support the people of Syria, and called for further increases in humanitarian funding in the coming months.
“Since January, around 200,000 refugees have fled Syria every month, and the total number of refugees is expected to reach 3.5 million by the end of the year.
“Australia must ensure that it continues to respond to this terrible reality and also put greater pressure on other countries to give to the United Nations’ global appeal for Syria.
“As ordinary people face the brunt of Syria’s ferocious war the international community must do much more to address their suffering.”
Oxfam says Australia and the international community must also be ready to provide long-term assistance for Syria and the region.
“Syrian refugees are likely to be forced to live in neighbouring countries for years to come – and Australia must be in this for the long haul,” Ms Cousins said.
Notes to editors: Oxfam’s Syrian refugee response in Jordan and Lebanon has already helped 200,000 people, with plans to reach 650,000.
Oxfam has Australian staff working on the Syria refugee response 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