12 MAR 2014
The Syria crisis three years on
Oxfam makes a global call to make this the last anniversary marked by bloodshed
As the third anniversary of the Syria Crisis approaches, more than 65 per cent of refugees surveyed by Oxfam fear they may not be able to go back to their home country. The agency urged the international community to help end the crisis so the refugees and displaced people inside Syria can return home and start rebuilding their lives.
Fighting in Syria between government forces and opposing groups continues to escalate. More than 100,000 lives have been lost, with the number of refugees now topping 2.5 million. Syria’s neighbouring countries, including Lebanon and Jordan, have shown incredible generosity in continuing to offer a safe refuge for people fleeing the crisis. However, drastically increased numbers of arrivals mean basic services and facilities, such as schools and health clinics, are stretched to the limit.
Oxfam researchers surveyed 151 households of refugees in three areas of Jordan representing 1,015 individuals. While the overwhelming majority of refugees want to return to Syria, just one-third of those questioned said they could clearly see themselves returning home. Of these refugees, 78 per cent still said they did not know when this would be.
In the past three years, Oxfam has helped an estimated 900,000 people affected across Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. In Jordan, Oxfam is working with refugees in both the Zaatari refugee camp and in host communities by providing water and sanitation facilities, improving hygiene conditions, and supporting waste management. In Lebanon, cash and vouchers were distributed to 2,000 refugee households during the winter months.
Inside Syria, Oxfam is delivering safe, clean water to more than 500,000 people. Oxfam is continuing to scale up its efforts, providing support for repairs to damaged water supply networks in areas heavily affected by the conflict, and training Syrian water engineers to install Oxfam’s emergency water tanks.
“Renewed efforts must urgently be made by the international community to help stop the bloodshed and bring an end to this devastating conflict which has destroyed so many lives. It’s time for the next round of the Geneva peace talks to start – and for real and lasting progress to be made around the negotiating table this time,” said Andy Baker, who heads up Oxfam’s response to the Syria Crisis.
The humanitarian response to the crisis has called for unprecedented levels of aid so far. In December, the United Nations appealed for a record-breaking US$6.5 billion, which is low given the true scale of the need. A total of US$2.3 billion was pledged at the Kuwait Donor Conference in January, but so far, just 12 per cent of the appeal (US$768 million) has been delivered by donor countries.
Oxfam fears that unless donor countries find the money desperately needed to fund the humanitarian response, then Syrians – both inside their country and in neighbouring ones – will lack the food, water, shelter, medical care and education they need.
Syrian voices have joined a coalition of humanitarian and human rights groups, including Oxfam, Save the Children, Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee, to launch the #WithSyria campaign, a call for world leaders to commit to making this the last anniversary marked by bloodshed.
Across the world from Moscow to Washington, thousands of people will mark the third anniversary of the Syria Crisis on 13 March 2014 with candlelight vigils. Nelson’s Column in the United Kingdom, the Lincoln Memorial in the United States, the Sydney Opera House in Australia and the Eiffel Tower in France will be lit up in a message of hope to Syrians.
Oxfam Hong Kong has also joined #WithSyria and launched an online campaign on its Facebook page, inviting the public to participate in its global appeal by posting a photo of themselves with a candle and using the #WithSyria hashtag in the caption. The photos will be reposted on its Facebook page as part of its global campaign. For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/oxfamhongkong.
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Oxfam is providing water filters to the refugee families in the Jordan Valley so safe drinking water is available.