As governments from around the world come together in Kuwait to pledge money to respond to the devastating situation in Syria – now called the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century by the UN – Oxfam is urging the Australian Government to give its fair share to the new UN appeal.
The Second International Pledging Conference for Syria will be held on 15 January 2014 in Kuwait City and is aiming to rally international financial support for the United Nations’ largest ever humanitarian appeal – totalling USD $6.5 billion (AUD $7.3 billion) for needs inside Syria and its surrounding countries throughout 2014.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said that while 2013 saw significant improvements in the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Syria, aid agencies were still struggling to cope with the increasing numbers of refugees and people in need.
“The number of Syrian refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries has more than quadrupled since this time last year to over 2.3 million people. Over 1 million of those are children,” Dr Szoke said.
“Families that have fled the violence in Syria are now facing the harshest winter to hit the Middle East in decades. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are living in makeshift tents and sleeping on mats or thin mattresses on the cold winter ground.”
Oxfam has undertaken research to calculate the fair share contributions that should be given by donor governments such as Australia to the UN Appeal.
The findings take into account a country’s Gross National Income (GNI) and previous contributions to the Syria response.
The Australian Government has generously given more than AUD $100 million to the crisis response since 2011. This assistance has supported the delivery of food, shelter and basic health care to two million people inside Syria and assistance to 1.5 million refugees in the region. Australian aid has also supported Oxfam’s humanitarian operations which have now reached more than 800,000 people in the region with life saving assistance.
“Australian aid to Syria has made a real difference to millions in need. However with four times as many refugees than in January last year and twice as many people in need of aid inside Syria itself, additional funds are urgently needed,” Dr Szoke said.
“Australia would need to give an additional AUD $106 million (USD $95.9 million) in 2014 to contribute its fair share to the UN appeal. This contribution will make an enormous difference to millions of people affected by this crisis and set a leading example to other donors that are lagging behind.
“We must not forget that the humanitarian impact of this crisis will be felt for years, even if the fighting were to end tomorrow.
“While aid is only part of the solution, by ensuring the Syrian people’s basic needs are met, governments including Australia can promote economic recovery and greater stability in the region. These factors will be critical to lasting political solution to the crisis.”
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