Response to Syrian Crisis Update
Respone to Syrian Crisis – Update
Following the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission’s decision to set aside £650,000 of its 2015 budget to support the Syrian Refugee Crisis, a meeting was held yesterday in London with five of the Commission’s main agencies responding to the crisis.
British Red Cross, GOAL, Oxfam, Save the Children and UNICEF each provided presentations on their individual response and how they were co-ordinating with each other in-country, in the region and on the migrant route. The Commission was fortunate to welcome to the meeting regional officers representing all of the main key MENA (Middle East North Africa) regions involved in the crisis.
It was clear that the level of acute humanitarian need, as well as the need to help people earn a living or continue in education throughout this protracted crisis, is vast. The situation is changing daily and agencies have to continually adapt. There is no “quick fix”. Rather, the agencies made clear that needs are so great and varied that establishing priorities for funding and action is extremely difficult.
There are overwhelming humanitarian needs in country and in the region, particularly with winter approaching. Yet work is also needed now to prepare for the longer term – enabling people to support themselves and their families for as long as the crisis lasts and removing incentives, where possible, for making the hugely dangerous crossing to Europe.
Deputy Carolyn Labey, Chair of Jersey Overseas Aid Commission said:-
“It is clear that the situation is changing daily and that the agencies have been adapting to the worsening crisis over past 5 years and they are continually having to adapt. Needs are so great it is hard to balance where the greatest need is, but it is going to require interventions on many levels to help the suffering. By supporting communities at the heart of this crisis and giving hope, meant less people would feel forced to migrate and therefore would not need to face further challenges encountered in Europe. In the absence of diplomatic political leadership, agencies felt their role was to try to manage the crisis. They continue to work with local governments to capacity build and help influence change, the local authorities are aware they need to lobby other governments to engage. Agencies felt greater coordination was crucial for governments to be able to play their part in responding to key challenges.”
Deputy Carolyn Labey went on to say, “The overriding message encountered by the agencies is that the Refugees just want to go home to Syria, they want access to basic services, they simply want normality.”
She said; “Jersey Overseas Aid Commission was grateful for the input of all those who attended and will be considering the information and reports from the NGO’s and how it will make a sustainable contribution this week.”
UNICEF advised that the humanitarian response inside Syria and the surrounding region is being coordinated through cluster approach. Clusters are groups of humanitarian organisations (UN and non-UN) working in the main sectors of humanitarian action such as shelter and health. Clusters provide a core coordinating role for responding humanitarian agencies and offer a clear point of contact for sector activities. They are accountable for adequate, targeted and appropriate humanitarian assistance. For example UNICEF is the lead agency for nutrition and water, sanitation and health (WASH) co-leading on education with Save the Children whilst GOAL, hosts the food security and livelihoods cluster.
The British Red Cross is supporting the day-to-day operations of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) who is the primary provider of humanitarian services in Syria. Together with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, SARC has delivered relief to 80% of high priority areas reaching 3.5million people on average each month. SARC holds a unique position in Syria, having unparalleled access to large areas of the country and its network enables them to respond quickly and effectively. SARC co-ordinates closely with the (United Nations) UN.
Save the Children advised the most vulnerable children were those who remain inside Syria, who risk death, illness, abuse and exploitation on a daily basis. The humanitarian needs in Syria are incalculable and providing the essential life-saving services to Syrian children and their families remains a priority.
Oxfam advised that the Syrian Crisis was no longer having a short-term humanitarian impact on Jordan, but rather was leading to profound long-term social and economic implications. A recent UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) report said that two out of three refugee households in Jordan continue to live below the absolute poverty line. At the same time vulnerable Jordanians also cannot access water or find jobs. Those agencies working in Jordan are now looking beyond immediate aid to longer term programmes so that both Syrians and Jordanians could find work, make a living and repair the economy. This would also enable improvements to urban infrastructure.
With over 1.2 million registered Syrian refugees and another 400,000 thought to be unregistered, Lebanon has the highest concentration of refugees per capita in the world. There are no refugee camps to meet this incredible need; rather refugees are housed in informal settlements, collective shelters and flats scattered among Lebanese communities. The Syrian crisis is having an overwhelming affect on the Lebanese economy, the needs of the local population combined with the great number of refugees has put an incredible stain on infrastructure, health services, education and jobs. Oxfam is increasingly looking to address the needs of the Lebanese host communities alongside refugees and is coordinating with other actors including UNICEF to map the most vulnerable communities. The response is that agencies are also focussing on more long term solutions here for refugees.