Rich countries continue to fail Syrians

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Despite the catastrophic scale of suffering and the numbers of people fleeing the conflict, rich countries have given barely half the aid money needed to help people in Syria and surrounding countries in 2015 and many countries, including the UK, are failing to do their fair share to resettle refugees, according to new analysis by Oxfam launched today.

The analysis, published ahead of a donor conference in London on 4 February, calculates how much aid and resettlement places are given by countries according to the size of their economy.  The UK, Germany and the Netherlands continue to give generously while Qatar and Saudi Arabia have decreased their funding significantly, and the US has contributed a smaller percentage of its fair share.

While Australia, France and Russia have increased their direct intervention in the conflict, they failed to fund the international appeals as much as they should. Russia provided just one per cent of its fair share to the appeals linked to the crisis in 2015.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB Chief Executive said: “The world is failing the people of Syria.  Five years on since the start of the crisis the violence and suffering continues to escalate but the level of funding and support fails to match.  Countries must do more to help in Syria, in the region and in resettling the most vulnerable.

“The British government has more than provided its share of financial aid but it has taken less than a quarter of its fair share of refugees.  The offer to resettle 20,000 refugees by 2020 equates to each of our 69 cities receiving only around 60 refugees per year, hardly a massive influx. And the government’s announcement to accept more child refugees from the region, while welcome, barely begins to address the problem. Britain can and should do more.”

Collectively, rich nations have so far offered places to 128,612 Syrians, only 28% of the minimum they should based on their fair share.   In contrast, Syria’s neighbouring countries are home to more than four million refugees.

Oxfam calls for the resettlement in rich countries of 10 per cent of refugees registered in Syria’s neighbours by the end of 2016, the equivalent of around 460,000 people. These are Syrians who are at risk, vulnerable women and children, and people with disabilities or injured during the conflict. 

Oxfam is also calling for new ways to help Syrians and countries hosting them in the region, such as job creation and opening up the labour market.

“With no chance of returning home soon refugees are stuck between a rock and a hard place: receiving less aid, and unable to sustain themselves without the right to work or valid residency permits. They are being forced into debt to pay rent and buy food, reducing the numbers of daily meals, and removing their children from school to send them to work. Refugees are becoming increasingly desperate,’ said Goldring.

While Lebanon and Jordan should lift restrictions on legal residency and jobs, and ensure access for refugees to education and health, they also need support with long-term development if they are to prevent their own people from slipping into poverty.

Inside Syria, insufficient aid funding is only part of the problem. Help is not reaching millions of Syrians in need because of sieges, bureaucratic hurdles, lack of access to civilian populations, and, most of all, unrelenting violence. 

Despite the unprecedented wave of public sympathy that Syrians have witnessed in 2015 as thousands of people drowned off Europe’s coasts, rich countries’ leaders have not responded with appropriate measures.  European governments should ensure that refugees are afforded safe and legal routes, so that they avoid dangerous journeys which expose them to abuse. 


Notes to editors:

The full fair share analysis for funding and resettlement pledges received to date is available here

Previous analyses are available for 2014 and for 2015 as well as a full explanation of how Oxfam calculates its fair share analysis.

Examples from Lebanon and Jordan depicting the impact of insufficient aid on refugees are also available.

For interviews with Oxfam staff in English, Arabic or French please contact:

Ian Bray (UK): / +44 (0)1865 472289 / +44 (0)7721 461339
Joelle Bassoul (Beirut): / +961-71525218

For updates, please follow @oxfamgbpress