Thousands of Syrians forced from their homes due to the recent fighting in Dar’a Province in southern Syria are unable to get the help they desperately need, international aid agency Oxfam said today.
Amid scorching summer temperatures, families need shelter, water, food and medical care but access for humanitarian agencies is limited and not enough assistance has been able to cross the border into Syria from Jordan.
Oxfam’s Country Director in Syria Moutaz Adham said recent clashes had seen the largest and fastest displacement of civilians since the Syria conflict began, with more than 330,000 people fleeing their homes during the two-week Syrian government offensive.
A ceasefire agreed on Friday, between the Syrian government and local armed opposition groups, has provided a temporary halt to the violence, but there remains uncertainty over the future of Dar’a and how long the ceasefire will hold. Many of those people now returning home will find their houses have been destroyed while others don’t feel it is safe enough to return or are moving elsewhere. The Oxfam team in Dar’a has reported that in many towns and villages, wells and other water supplies are not functioning, and back-up power systems are currently out of service.
“Thousands of families have been displaced and their communities wrecked by recent fighting across Dar’a province. Their struggles will get worse unless they receive the water, food and medical care they urgently need,” Mr Adham said.
There are also concerns for the approximately 100 people from Dar’a remaining at the Jaber/ Nasib border crossing with Jordan, the UN has confirmed. Those 100 have joined tens of thousands of others already sheltering close to the border in need of protection and assistance.
Many of those displaced, including Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries such as Jordan, have expressed concerns about returning home, fearing insecurity, detention, conscription, and other potential threats to their safety.
Nickie Monga, Oxfam’s Country Director in Jordan said: “Jordan is already bearing an immense burden in hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees but we urge it to once again provide a safe space for those fleeing the violence and continue to facilitate cross-border assistance. The international community too must play its part by providing more aid to Jordan and increased resettlement of Syrian refugees.”
Oxfam is calling on all parties to the conflict and those with influence over them to work to stop the violence, which has led to civilian deaths and the destruction of medical facilities and schools in Dar’a.
Oxfam is providing water and sanitation in an emergency shelter in Al-Sanamayn and has identified other areas in need of support across the Dar’a province.
Oxfam Australia has welcomed the Australian Government’s continued commitment to support Syrians affected by the ongoing civil war, with $433 million in humanitarian assistance provided or pledged since 2011, and the organisation encouraged the Government to continue to push for a political solution to this humanitarian crisis.
Oxfam Australia has received a total of $7 million from the Australian Government to help support Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, as well as Jordanian and Lebanese households living in poverty. Oxfam’s support is centered on helping refugees to find work or set up small businesses, to help support themselves and their families.
For interviews with Oxfam staff in Syria, Jordan or Australia, or more information, please contact Dylan Quinnell on 0450 668 350 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
Over the past year, Oxfam estimates it helped more two million people in Syria as well as refugees and the communities in which they are sheltering in Jordan and Lebanon – including with Australian aid support. This has included providing safe drinking water, sanitation and vital food aid as well as helping refugees make a living and protecting them from violence and abuse.