Oxfam calls for Australia to give fair share of funds for Syria crisis, as international response fails

Emergencies, General, Humanitarian Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 09 Sep 2014

Oxfam is calling on the Australian Government to increase humanitarian assistance to the Syria crisis after a report warning of a failing international response released today found Australia has contributed just 27 per cent of its fair share of funding.

The Oxfam report found the global humanitarian response to the world’s worst refugee crisis was failing on three fronts, with governments giving insufficient aid, meagre refugee resettlement offers, and continuing to fuel the conflict with arms.

Oxfam Australia Humanitarian Advocacy Lead Stephanie Cousins said while the Australian Government had committed to accepting its fair share of Syrian refugees, it also needed to take the lead on funding appeals and pushing for arms controls.

“This is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, and the international community’s response is falling far short on every front,” Ms Cousins said.

“In Syria, a steady flow of Kalashnikovs, bombs and missiles is fuelling terrible violations, while aid only trickles through to those who so desperately need it. Neighbouring countries are hosting millions of refugees, many in desperate need of shelter, healthcare, food and water.”

The report, A Fairer Deal for Syrians, revealed humanitarian appeal targets totalling AUS$8.2 billion (US$7.7 billion) are less than half funded. Oxfam has calculated that Australia’s fair share for the crisis this year is AU$117.6 million (US$109.6 million), but to date the Australian Government has only given AU$31 million (US$29.2 million).

“The international community’s inadequate approach to the Syrian conflict is failing the millions of people who have fled torture, massacres and barrel bombs and those facing a terrifying future inside Syria. They have been abandoned by the international community and are living in desperate conditions in a daily battle to survive,” Ms Cousin said.

“Oxfam is calling on the Australian Government to give at least AUS$70 million to the Syrian crisis appeals, and we are not alone. More than 22,000 Australians have signed our petition urging the government to answer this call and are encouraging more members of the public to get behind the cause.”

The most generous donors to the crisis are the UK, which has given 141 per cent of its fair share and Denmark, which has contributed 163 per cent.

Rich countries are offering a safe haven to a paltry number of refugees from Syria while neighbouring countries are struggling to support more than 3 million people who have fled the conflict. Oxfam is calling for five per cent of the projected refugee population to be resettled or offered humanitarian admission to these countries by the end of 2015.

Australia, Germany and Austria are the only wealthy countries to have offered to relocate their fair share of Syrian refugees, with Australia agreeing to accept more than 4000 people. Almost all others are falling short. Ms Cousins welcomed the government’s commitments to refugees, which amount to 103 per cent of their fair share, but urged them to offer further help.

“While well-off nations Australia, Germany and Austria are leading other countries in their commitments to resettle Syrian refugees, both are far behind the United Kingdom when it comes to giving their fair share of funding to the Syrian crisis. Australia should also push the UN to impose an arms embargo on all warring parties,” Ms Cousins said.

For interviews or more information, please contact Angus Hohenboken on 0428 367 318 or angush@oxfam.org.au