Emergency aid is not enough

International donors should ensure that a renewed collective focus on sustained funding for Syria is achieved at the upcoming Syria Conference in London, the Danish Refugee Council said in a statement today. In the absence of a political solution, the needs continue for the civilian Syrians.

Photo by Noe Falk Nielsen

The conference is co-hosted by the UK, Germany, Kuwait, Norway and the UN and is bringing key players to the table in London, February 4 to address the needs for those affected by the protracted Syria crises. DRC will participate in the Civil Society part of the conference, and the message is clear.

“This week discussions started in Geneva on a political solution to the Syrian crisis. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like a political solution will come any time soon to end the suffering for the civilian Syrians. There are over 4.4 million Syrian lives hanging in the balance if we do not unite and commit long term sustainable funding for humanitarian assistance at this conference. This is an opportunity for all humanitarian actors to renew our focus on the needs of Syrian people and maintain pressure on all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and address as well the short term emergency assistance to more sustainable and durable solutions for the Syrians suffering,” says Ann Mary Olsen, International Director at the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).

The DRC urge delegates to recognise that although committed aid investment is necessary, more needed to be achieved to create an enabling environment for Syrians to sustain themselves. Access to legal residence, permanent employment, work permits and education in neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon remain limited, situations that have pushed poverty rates to exceed 85 per cent amongst Syrian refugees who have absolved their savings and run out of options to create a livelihood.

“Donors need to address the fact that short term emergency assistance is not sufficient and enough – though also indeed necessary. It is important to conjoin life-saving humanitarian aid and longer-term development aid, focused on promoting durable solutions. Heavy investments are needed in infrastructure in the neighbouring countries to support their resilience and response capacity as well as helping creating livelihood – and hence creating future prospects for the displaced Syrians. We’ve recently done a survey which shows that many Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries consider onwards movement, even though they prefer not to move, due to lack of livelihood, regular jobs, education and other essentials. This shows that now is the time for the international community to stand up,” says Ann Mary Olsen  

A shortfall of around 50 per cent in pledged funding for Syria response in 2015 resulted in wide-scale cutting back of basic food, psychosocial support and livelihood assistance in MENA region.

“What is of utmost important is of course also what is not just being pledged at these conferences – but also to what extent donors are living up to their pledges. But we also know that with a situation such as the Syrian crisis, aid can never stand alone,” says Ann Mary Olsen and continues: “As Syrian families consider a bleak and desperate future without the capacity to support themselves, more people are taking their chances on risky boat journeys to Europe. To handle this, European governments should do what they can to push for a political solution to the conflict, significantly step up the current funding, improve their commitment to European Union relocation agreements as well as sustained refugee resettlement quotas for Syrians,” says Ann Mary Olsen.

In the prelude to the Syria Conference, DRC has joined other international and local NGOs in a call on the participants and the wider international community. Read more here.

The DRC has been operational in Syria since 2007 and is committed to responding to the needs of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees using a multi-sartorial approach throughout its emergency response and humanitarian programming. The DRC began operations in Middle East in 2003, and now operates in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq assisting over 1.5 million displacement affected people each year.