Oxfam Australia welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement today of $20 million for food, medical assistance, shelter and protection to people in need inside Syria, as well as refugees and their host communities in Lebanon, but called on it to increase the amount to what is Australia’s fair share – $149 million.
Today’s announcement by the Australian Government comes as governments from around the world gather today 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 Australia Chief Executive Helen Szoke said while the $20 million demonstrated the Government’s commitment to helping people affected by the Syrian conflict, it was far less than what the Abbott Government could afford.
“Approximately $11.1 billion (AUD) is needed to respond to the crisis in 2015. Oxfam has calculated that Australia’s fair share of this would be $149 million (AUD) based on the size of our economy,” Dr Szoke said.
“Australia, as a country that prides itself on fairness, has given significantly less than its fair share of aid for 2015 to the Syrian crisis.
“If Australia and other wealthy governments fail to give their fair share of aid, there will be a devastating effect on millions of civilians in Syria and its neighbouring countries.
“Four years into the crisis, the humanitarian appeals are already stripped back to contain the bare minimum. With inadequate aid funds, more people in need will have to resort to desperate survival strategies such as child labour or early marriage.
“There is also the real risk that if governments like Australia’s don’t provide adequate aid, people affected by the crisis won’t have basic necessities like clean water, food, and shelter.”
The number of people in need of assistance in Syria and beyond continues to rise dramatically, while relative funding declines. More than 12 million people – the equivalent to half the population of Australia – are currently in need of urgent humanitarian assistance inside Syria.
Pledges made at last year’s donor conference in Kuwait fell far short of needs and Oxfam calculated that nearly half of the world’s top donors didn’t give their fair share of aid in 2014, based on the size of their economies, including Russia, which only gave 7 per cent of its fair share, Australia, which gave only 28 per cent, and Japan, which gave 29 per cent.
“The $20 million announced today represents an important contribution to the crisis by the Australian Government, but we urge the government to give more to the crisis to bring our contribution in line with our fair share of aid,” Dr Szoke said.
“In giving our fair share of aid to the people of Syria we would be joining governments that gave their fair share of aid in 2014, such as Kuwait (1107%), the United Arab Emirates (391%), Norway (254%) the United Kingdom (166%), Germany (111%), and the United States (97%).”
For more information please contact Louise Perry on 0414 456 015 or firstname.lastname@example.org