As the crisis in Syria continues to escalate and moves into its fourth year, Australia is being urged now more than ever to deliver desperately needed assistance.
The scale of the crisis in Syria and the humanitarian assistance required is rapidly increasing and donor countries like Australia need to urgently respond.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the time is now for the Australian Government to step up its efforts to help the people of Syria.
“Australia has a role to play in renewed diplomatic efforts to help stop the bloodshed and bring an end to this devastating conflict,” Dr Szoke said.
“These men, women and children are living in limbo, battling each day to survive, with little idea of what the future holds. That must change. Syrians deserve better than this.”
She highlighted that a political solution to the crisis was urgently needed for refugees and displaced people inside Syria to be able to return home and start rebuilding their lives.
“Getting all parties to the negotiating table in Geneva earlier this year was a huge first step after three years of fighting, but little real progress has been made so far. The next round of Geneva peace talks need to start as soon as possible – and this time, real and lasting progress must be made.
“Australia should also support the meaningful participation of women and civil society groups in the talks, who have a vital role in ensuring a sustainable peace in Syria.”
Dr Szoke also said that as long as the crisis continued, it was vital for Australia to continue responding to the enormous humanitarian needs. The UN has appealed for a record-breaking USD$6.5 billion (AUD$7.1 billion) in humanitarian funding. A total of $2.3 billion was pledged at the Kuwait Donor Conference in January but to date, only 12 per cent of the appeal ($768 million) has been delivered by donor countries since the launch in December.
Australia’s fair share of the total appeal for 2014 is calculated as AUD$106m, but so far Australia has contributed less than 10% of this amount.
“While Australia has been a generous donor in the past, now is not the time to scale back the delivery of desperately needed assistance. The Australian Government has only pledged $10 million this year to the UN’s Syria Appeal and it’s clear we need to provide more if we are to meet our fair share.”
The aid agency fears that unless donor countries find the money desperately needed to fund the humanitarian response, both those who remain inside Syria and in neighbouring countries, will lack the food, water, shelter, medical care and education they need.
Abu Mustaffa, father-of-seven, from Hama governorate in Syria, who now lives in a tented settlement in the Jordan Valley, says the situation has become too dangerous for his family to consider returning home.
“No one can go back to our village, it’s too dangerous and life is too difficult…we want people across the world to help us to get back to our country.
“At the moment, I am not hopeful that there will be any peace, I feel hopeless. We all hope things will get better, but nothing happens. I want to go back to normal life where everything is fine and people have stopped killing each other.
“We hope to go back so that our children will return to their schools to learn, to farm their land and be productive in their own country.”
For interviews or more information, please contact Emma Whalan on 0418 873 782 or email@example.com
Notes to editors:
1. Refugees were surveyed in Zarqa, Balqa, Jordan Valley and Jawa. Researchers interviewed members of 151 households using electronic handheld data capture, representing 1015 individuals.
2. Oxfam has helped an estimated 900,000 people affected by the Syria crisis across Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. In Jordan, Oxfam is working with refugees in both Zaatari camp and host communities by providing water and sanitation facilities, hygiene promotion and waste management. In Lebanon, cash and voucher distributions are underway.
Inside Syria, Oxfam is now delivering safe, clean water to over 500,000 people. Oxfam is continuing to scale up and is supporting repairs to damaged water supply networks in heavily conflict-affected areas, and training Syrian water engineers to install Oxfam emergency water tanks.
3. Syrian voices have joined a coalition of humanitarian and human rights groups, including Save the Children, Oxfam, Amnesty International and World Vision, to launch the #WithSyria campaign, a pledge for world leaders to commit to making this the last anniversary marked by bloodshed. The campaign is calling for urgent action to ensure Syrians in need – including civilians in areas under siege – can access aid and for the voices of ordinary Syrians to be heard and heeded in reconvened peace talks. For more information: http://www.oxfam.org/en/campaigns/conflict/stand-with-syria
4.12% of the UN appeal funded as of 14th March 2014. Data on UN appeals includes donor commitments and contributions towards the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP) and the Syria Regional Response Plan (RRP), as well as contributions outside these frameworks (to UN agencies, NGOs or the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement) in Syria and neighbouring countries, as reported to FTS and UNHCR. For more information: http://fts.unocha.org/pageloader.aspx?page=special-syriancrisis