Solidarity With Syrians: Action needed on aid, refuge, and to end the bloodshed

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The arrival of tens of thousands of Syrians to Europe’s borders and the shocking deaths of women, children and men on their perilous journey has been a sharp reminder to the international community of the tragedy engulfing the people of Syria. Syrians put themselves and their families at so much risk only out of sheer desperation. The international community has failed so far to address the spiralling catastrophe in Syria. This briefing calls for urgent and immediate action by the international community to deal with this deepening crisis: to fully fund the aid response
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  OXFAM BRIEFING NOTE OCTOBER 2015 www.oxfam.org Jemaa Al Halayal, 35, holds his two-year-old daughter Amina, outside the tent in which they now live in an informal settlement for Syrian refugees in north Bekaa Valley in Lebanon on September 10 2015. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam SOLIDARITY WITH SYRIANS  Action needed on aid, refuge, and to end the bloodshed The arrival of tens of thousands of Syrians to Europe’s borders and the shocking deaths of women, children and men on their perilous journey has been a sharp reminder to the international community of the tragedy engulfing the people of Syria. Syrians put themselves and their families at so much risk only out of sheer desperation. The international community has failed so far to address the spiralling catastrophe in Syria. Oxfam is calling for urgent and immediate action by the international community to deal with this deepening crisis: to fully fund the aid response, to offer refuge to those who have fled the country including through resettlement of a fair share of the refugee population, to halt the transfer of arms and ammunition and to revive concerted efforts towards a resolution of the crisis.  2 INTRODUCTION The arrival of tens of thousands of Syrians to Europe‟s borders in recent weeks  and the shocking deaths of women, children and men on their perilous journey has been a sharp reminder to the international community of the tragedy engulfing the people of Syria. Syrians put themselves and their families at so much risk only out of sheer desperation. The war in Syria is characterized by disregard for human life and dignity. Since 2011, more than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria and more than one million injured. 1  Arms continue to be used to commit terrible violations. Indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks by all parties to the conflict, including through the use of barrel bombs, mortar attacks and other explosive weapons in populated areas, remain by far the primary cause of civilian deaths and injuries. 2  Siege is used as a tactic of war. Ten million people in the country do not have enough to eat. More than half of Syria's hospitals have been destroyed or badly damaged, and Syria‟s  human development indices have been rolled back 38 years. 3  The water supply has decreased to less than 50 percent of its pre-crisis levels and is increasingly being used as a weapon of war by all parties to the conflict. 4  Well over half the entire pre-crisis population of Syria have had to flee their homes. 5  Syria is the largest displacement crisis in the world today: 7.6 million people are internally displaced and more than 4 million people registered as refugees in neighbouring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. But as the number of people in need grows, aid from humanitarian agencies is being drastically reduced due to funding shortages, and the violence in Syria remains endemic and all-encompassing. Neighbouring countries have shown extraordinary hospitality in hosting refugees from Syria, but they have seen their resources and infrastructure overstretched, leading to increasingly restrictive government policies aiming to stem the flow of asylum seekers. Maintaining valid residency papers and registration, or being allowed to work and have an income, has become ever more challenging for refugees, increasing the risk of being fined, arrested or even deported. The international community has failed to address this spiralling catastrophe. Most wealthy countries are not contributing their fair share to the aid response  –  appeals are now funded at 44 percent only. They have also failed to provide safe and legal routes for Syrians to their territory, including not doing enough to ensure that vulnerable refugees are offered resettlement and other forms of humanitarian admission in sufficient numbers. Several countries  –  including Iran, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States  –  are also fuelling violence and violations of the laws of war in Syria through arms and ammunition transfers to parties to the conflict. UN Security Council members, as well as other key states, have consistently failed to set aside political difference in order to resolve this conflict. The increasing desperation and hopelessness of Syrians help to explain why, this year, more than 250,000 felt that their only chance of safety and dignity was to risk their lives in an attempt to reach Europe. 6  Oxfam is calling for urgent and immediate action by the international community to deal with this deepening crisis and help alleviate the suffering. This should involve fully funding the aid response, offering a safe haven to refugees including through resettlement of a fair share of the refugee population, halting the transfer of arms and ammunition, and reviving concerted efforts towards a resolution of the crisis, however difficult it may be.   3 SUPPORT A FALTERING AID RESPONSE The international community has failed to provide adequate financial support for Syrians in desperate need. Ten months into the year, aid appeals for the Syria crisis for 2015  –  for people still in Syria and for those who sought refuge in neighbouring countries  –  are funded at 44 percent only, while many more people are in dire need. In 2015 alone, an additional two million people have been displaced, within and outside Syria.  As in previous years, 7  Oxfam has calculated what would be a fair share of financial support for the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis, based on the size of the economy of each of the world‟s wealthier countries . 8  Some countries have contributed above their fair share, such as the Netherlands (227 percent), the UK (229 percent) and Kuwait (538 percent). However, Oxfam‟s analysis reveals a significant drop in funding from other Gulf countries. Saudi Arabia has only contributed 6 percent of its fair share, Qatar 17 percent and the United Arab Emirates 38 percent (compared with 98 percent, 186 percent and 121 percent respectively in September 2014). Some countries continue to contribute well below their fair share year after year: France ranks at 22 percent compared with 33 percent last year, Japan has contributed only 24 percent and Russia remains at 1 percent. It is useful to compare this with Jordan, which as a host country is estimated to spend $870m a year  9  in relation to the crisis. If it were treated as a traditional donor, this would mean that Jordan would have contributed 5,622 percent of its fair share. Behind these statistics are drastic aid cuts in food, healthcare, and roofs over people‟s heads –  the difference between life with a measure of dignity and destitution for millions of people. Humanitarian agencies have had to significantly cut both the number of Syrian people they are helping and the amount of assistance they can provide. For instance, the World Food Programme (WFP) had to reduce its food assistance program to refugees in host countries, either by dropping some of them from its lists of beneficiaries or by reducing the value of its assistance. Box 1: Ahmed and his family heavily impacted by WFP cuts  Ahmed, his wife, and their five young daughters fled their hometown of Homs in January 2013. One afternoon they were caught in clashes and a bullet grazed the top of the head of  Ahmed‟s 11 -year-old daughter, Malak. This was the final straw for the family and they made their way to Jordan shortly after, where they spent a few days in Za‟atari refugee camp before moving to Zarqa city where they rent an apartment.  Ahmed initially found casual work in construction, but grew wary of continuing to work illegally when his brother-in-law was caught working without a permit and ran into problems with the authorities. He and his family were living largely off WFP vouchers and support from other agencies, including some cash assistance from Oxfam in 2014. However, with humanitarian funds decreasing, the assistance provided to Ahmed and his family is no longer enough to cover their food needs (food vouchers have been reduced to $14 (10JD) a month per person) nor the rent (the rent alone is $240 (170 JD) per month), and Ahmed is not allowed to work to make ends meet for his family. Last August, Ahmed‟s landlord let him skip a month‟s rent. But Ahmed does not know how he will pay the rent in September or survive if assistance further decreases. Ahmed is even thinking about making his way to Turkey and then Europe in order to ensure that his children can have a better future. The funding shortage also impacts the governments and the often poor communities that host refugees. Lack of funding translates into long queues at health centers, overcrowded classrooms, and falling water quality and sanitation for the poorest people affected by the crisis. Rich and developed countries must provide humanitarian funding commensurate with the scale of need, as well as providing economic aid packages to neighbouring countries to help them cope with the effects of the crisis. Recent pledges 10  must be quickly disbursed and become real aid.  4 Table 1: Funding fair share analysis This chart details funding committed to the Syria crisis response up to 29 September 2015. Based on an estimated total need of $ 8.9bn, the analysis shows that only 44 percent of the funding needed has been received. The estimated total needs are calculated by adding the combined UN appeals on the Syria crisis for 2015, as well as those by the ICRC and IFRC. Country 2015 contributions ($m) (Incl. CERF/ECHO share) Fair share ($m) % Fair share contributed  Australia 44.3 119.2 37%  Austria 10.7 46.7 23% Belgium 25.5 56 46% Canada 146.3 181.8 80% Czech Republic 6.6 34.1 19% Denmark 37.4 30.6 122% Finland 22.4 26.4 85% France 67.9 308.8 22% Germany 334.7 446.3 75% Greece 7 34.4 20% Iceland 0.1 1.6 9% Ireland 15.3 21.9 70% Italy 55.1 258 21% Japan 138.0 584 24% Korea, Republic of 4.4 203.8 2% Kuwait 304.7 56.6 538% Luxembourg 8.4 3.8 220% Netherlands 214.9 94.6 227% New Zealand 1.8 16.5 11% Norway 76.3 41 186% Poland 9.2 106.6 9% Portugal 8.3 33.2 25% Qatar 9.4 57.1 17% Russia 6.9 683.6 1% Saudi Arabia 18.5 317.6 6% Slovakia 1.6 17.1 9% Spain 41.9 185.1 23% Sweden 52.7 54 . 3   97% Switzerland 62.1 58.1 107% UAE 42.5 113.2 38% United Kingdom 679 296.8 229% United States 1483.3 2062.3 72% TOTAL 3944 n/a Note:  The analysis includes members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and high-income non-DAC countries . Each country‟s fair share is calculated as a percentage of total need based on each country‟s share of total, combined gross national income (GNI). Each country‟s contributions include both bilateral and imputed multilateral funding. Information is drawn from publicly available sources including EDRIS and FTS and checked with government representatives where possible. Key >90% fair share contributed 50  – 90% contributed <50% contributed
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