A Fairer Deal for Syrians: International commitments needed to arrest the deepening crisis in Syria and the region | Refugee | United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees

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The number of people killed, displaced or in desperate need of assistance as a result of the conflict in Syria continues to rise. With 3 million refugees, 6.5 million people displaced inside Syria and 190,000 people killed, the crisis is posing a serious risk to the security and stability of neighbouring countries. The sheer scale of this crisis demands specific and increased commitments from the international community to help alleviate the suffering: to fully fund the aid response, to offer refugees resettlement, and to halt the transfer of arms and ammunition. Through key indicators that Oxfam has developed in each of these areas, this briefing shows how far the international community is falling short of what is needed.
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  190 OXFAM BRIEFING PAPER 9 SEPTEMBER 2014 www.oxfam.org  Shayma, 6, plays with her 15-day-old brother Hussein, in the warehouse her family rents in Bab al Tabbaneh in Tripoli, Lebanon, 15 May 2014. The family was recently connected to a main water supply as part of an Oxfam-funded campaign to renovate sanitation facilities in the impoverished neighbourhood. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam A FAIRER DEAL FOR SYRIANS International commitments needed to arrest the deepening crisis in Syria and the region The number of people killed, displaced or in desperate need of assistance as a result of the conflict in Syria continues to rise. A staggering 190,000 people have been killed and 6.5 million displaced inside Syria. And with 3 million refugees, it is now one of the biggest refugee crises since the end of the Second World War. The crisis is posing a serious risk to the security and stability of neighbouring countries and has contributed to the destabilization of Iraq. The sheer scale of this crisis demands specific and increased commitments from members of the international community to help alleviate the suffering: to fully fund the aid response, to offer refugees resettlement, and to halt the transfer of arms and ammunition. This briefing shows that the international community is falling far short in each of these areas.  2 1 INTRODUCTION While the world’s attention is on crises in Gaza, Ukraine  and elsewhere, the humanitarian crisis in Syria continues to deteriorate beyond anything that could have been envisaged when protests broke out over three years ago. A staggering 190,000 people have been killed and 6.5 million displaced inside the country, and the conflict shows little sign of abating. There are three million registered refugees from Syria in neighbouring countries and an unknown number who have not registered. Jord an’s planning minister has highlighted the fact that the presence of Syrian refugees in Jordan is akin to ‘ the United States absorbing the entire population of Canada ’ . 1  These numbers do not even begin to capture the trauma and horror of the conflict. They fail to reflect the stories of the millions of men, women and children who have been forced to flee their homes or their country, nor their current fears, hopes and aspirations for the future. Stories like that of Iyad and Nawal and their family, who fled Syria after two of their children  –  Farah and Imad  –  were injured by a cluster bomb. With shrapnel still embedded in Farah and Imad’s legs, the whole family fled Syria and were sleeping rough without food or clean water in northern Lebanon when Oxfam staff met them. 2  They were wearing wet clothes and had no money to buy nappies for their youngest baby. This is the harsh reality of life as a refugee among millions of refugees  –  a reality that the international community must not turn its back on. Long held predictions of the conflict destabilizing the region are coming true. The Syria conflict is also now intimately linked to the crisis unfolding in Iraq, which has created its own difficult-to-fathom statistics and untold stories of human tragedy. This briefing argues that the sheer scale of this crisis demands specific, and in some cases significantly increased, commitments from the international community to help those affected. One of the challenges in mobilizing the international community to respond effectively in situations such as this is to encourage each country to contribute fairly  –  whether that be in terms of aid dollars, supporting refugees, or other measures. Oxfam has developed three key indicators to help guide the level of commitment that each wealthy country should make in order to fairly alleviate the suffering of those affected by the Syria crisis: ã  The level of funding each country makes available for the humanitarian response, relative to the size of its economy (based on gross national income); ã  The number of Syrian refugees each country has helped to find safety through offers of resettlement or other forms of humanitarian protection, again based on the size of the economy; 3   ã   Each country’s commitment to taking practical action to end violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by halting transfers of arms and ammunition. In addition to reconvening talks aimed at ending the crisis, which collapsed in Geneva this year, halting arms transfers would be one way that members of the international community could signal their commitment to a political, rather than military, solution to the crisis. The primary responsibility for ensuring respect for the rights of the Syrian people lies with the Syrian government and the armed groups fighting in the country. Nevertheless, the international community has a vital role and responsibility to assist and provide protection to those affected by this crisis. This briefing demonstrates that the international community is falling significantly short of even the minimum required   3 of it. As a whole, the international community has not contributed nearly enough to the aid response, has left neighbouring countries to cope with an ever-increasing number of refugees, and has failed to unite in order to halt transfers of arms and ammunition to Syria. Oxfam delivers aid inside Syria, providing clean water to more than one million people. In neighbouring countries Lebanon and Jordan the organization is helping hundreds of thousands of    refugees who have fled the conflict . 4    4 2 AN URGENT FUNDING GAP The UN has launched its largest ever humanitarian appeal for Syria. Shamefully, well over halfway through the year, the UN appeals are only 40 percent funded. Other agencies like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have their own appeals, as do the governments of Jordan and Lebanon. An aggregate of all of these appeals puts the total need at $7.7bn. 5   Already, humanitarian agencies have had to cut their programmes and target assistance to those most in need, owing to insufficient funds. In October 2013 the World Food Programme (WFP) in Lebanon had to cut 30 percent of beneficiaries from its food aid programme. 6  In Jordan, Oxfam has had to halt its cash programming to refugees in host communities. The negative impacts of these aid cuts are compounded by the fact that the savings and assets of refugees are already seriously depleted. 7  As a result, the situation is set to substantially worsen for thousands, if not millions of people. Dalya, a refugee from Homs living in Tripoli with her four children, told Oxfam, ‘Sometimes I can’t pay the rent. Last month I had to sell my asthma medicines in order to pay ’ . This combination of diminished savings and reduced assistance means that refugees will increasingly be forced to resort to risky, negative coping mechanisms, including ‘ child labour, survival sex, early marriage, skipping meals and begging ’ . 8   GIVING WHAT’S FAI R In order to prevent these negative outcomes, governments must dig deep and provide humanitarian funding commensurate with the scale of need. Appeals by the UN, the ICRC and host governments are directed at all members of the international community, and are non-prescriptive. For this reason, Oxfam has calculated what would be a fair share, based on the size of the economy of each country. 9  The analysis includes members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and high-income non-DAC countries. 10   Each country’s fair share is calculated as a percentage of total need 11   based on each country’s share  of total, combined gross national income (GNI). Each c ountry’s contributions include both bilateral and imputed multilateral funding (from the Central Emergency Response Fund of the UN and EU member states through ECHO, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department). ‘The current level of funding ... does not enable us to achieve the goal of enrolling more than 172,000 children next year in schools or launch a necessary vaccination campaign for all children under 5 years.’    Ninnette Kelly, UNHCR representative in Lebanon, 3 July 2014
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