Image by IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation via Flickr
As the global community heads into its sixth year facing the crisis in Syria, world leaders and aid organisations are gathering in London this week to discuss possible solutions. Approximately fifty families have been expatriated every hour of every day since the conflicts’ beginning in 2011 and there are still 13.5 million people in Syria in need of relief.
Over 70 heads of state, the UN Secretary General, heads of international organisations, NGOS and private sector representatives are aiming to create a new multi-billion dollar deal to benefit Syrian refugees and the countries hosting them. The United Nations is requesting US$7.73 billion and regional governments are appealing for an extra US$1.2 billion. Some of this money is to be used in private sector investment and engagement to drive economic growth and create jobs for refugees.
However, a global coalition of more than 90 humanitarian and human rights groups have said that monetary aid is not enough. Dr. Rouba Mhaissen of Sawa for Development and Aid said that this conference has to represent “a step-change in the scale and ambition of the international response. After five years, it's time to go beyond the drip-feed of insufficient humanitarian assistance. Governments must do more to help Syrians lead more proactive, dignified lives and ease the strain on host communities in neighbouring countries." The coalition is aiming to generate protection of Syrian citizens ending the siege efforts, obstruction of humanitarian aid and the attacks on homes, schools and hospitals.
The coalition has also called for refugee-hosting countries to remove the obstacles preventing refugees from working and receiving essential services. This includes providing all Syrian refugee children with safe, quality education in their host countries for the next school year.
The rights and needs of the refugees, Syrian citizens and poverty stricken host communities is something that Dr. Ahmed Tarakji, President of the Syrian American Medical Society believes that the deal needs to respect. "Syrian refugees need hope and should have the chance to build their own future. Their rights must be respected, and they should have the opportunity to work and educate their children."