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 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 destabilisation 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.
March 2014 marks the third year since the start of the conflict in Syria and the statistics make sobering reading. During these three years more than 100,000 people have been killed and 9.3 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. Around 6.5 million people have fled their homes and are now living in temporary accommodation, schools or other shelter across Syria. More than 2.4 million refugees – half of them children – have fled into neighbouring countries.
There are an estimated one million refugees from Syria living in Lebanon, with more arriving every day. As the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, it is increasingly likely that many will remain in Lebanon for many months, if not years, to come. The Beirut Research and Innovation Center was commissioned by Oxfam to survey 260 households, representing 1,591 individuals, about their living conditions, sources of income and expenditure patterns, coping mechanisms and perceptions of life in Lebanon. The survey shows that many families are spiralling deeper into debt, living in cramped conditions, with few job prospects and dwindling hope for the future.
The horrifying chemical weapons attacks in Damascus in August 2013 led to a flurry of diplomatic activity. This new momentum has the potential to turn into a breakthrough only if urgent and immediate action is taken on aid and efforts are made to stop the bloodshed.
This study, published by Oxfam and the Beirut-based ABAAD-Resource Centre for Gender Equality, finds that women are bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis with the majority of the women interviewed saying they had resorted to desperate measures to survive. Many women are regularly going hungry so their children and husbands can eat. Around 90 per cent of women interviewed said they regularly skip meals because there is simply not enough food to go round.
The human cost of Syria’s conflict has risen beyond all expectations. In January, the UN predicted 1.1 million refugees by June. This April, there are already 1.3 million. Inside Syria itself, 6.8 million people struggle in urgent need of assistance.
As the numbers grow, however, the money to help some of those refugees and displaced people is running out. UN appeals have received only half of what they sought – to help far fewer people than they now need to assist.