Time for action, not words on aid to Syria refugees: Oxfam

1st February 2016, Comments 0 comments

British charity Oxfam on Monday said it was time for concrete action on stumping up aid and not just words and pledges to help the millions of refugees from Syria's conflict.

"Rich countries meeting in London this week must commit to real changes that will improve the lives of millions of Syrians," Oxfam said in a report.

"Aid funding and resettlement places offered so far were often so low as to be little more than token gestures," it said.

"Syrians in need are waiting for actions not just kind words and promises."

Host country Britain has said an international donor conference Thursday will urge participating countries to double the amount of money they are giving to tackle the humanitarian crisis.

Germany and Norway, along with the United Nations and Kuwait, are co-hosting the London gathering of world leaders.

They will discuss how to help 13.5 million people who are either vulnerable or displaced inside Syria, as well as 4.2 million people who have fled to neighbouring countries like Jordan and Lebanon.

Last year, UN agencies asked for $8.4 billion (7.7 billion euros) from governments worldwide to fund the Syrian aid effort but received only $3.3 billion.

Oxfam called for "a jolt" at the London conference.

Its latest "fair share analysis", calculating aid according to size of national economies, showed that Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain were the most generous donors, whereas energy-rich Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as the United States had only "contributed a smaller percentage of their fair share".

"Australia, France and Russia have increased their direct involvement in the conflict but fail to fund the appeals as much as they should," Oxfam said, referring to their military campaigns in Syria.

"Look at Norway, Belgium, and Kuwait. They have given much more than their fair share in aid. How can France, Saudi Arabia, and Russia explain their shortfalls?" asked Andy Baker, who leads Oxfam's response to the Syria crisis.

"In comparison, Syria's small neighbours Lebanon and Jordan... have spent the equivalent of 6,892 percent and 5,628 percent of their fair share in aid respectively."

Oxfam said that Britain, "in contrast to its generosity with aid funding, has offered to resettle 20,000 refugees by 2020.

"If spread across the UK, that would mean each of its 69 cities receives around 60 refugees per year, hardly a massive influx."

It said the United States, France, Russia, Spain and the Netherlands "also still desperately lag behind in resettling Syrians".


© 2016 AFP

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