Two years into Syria’s conflict, the region faces a staggering humanitarian crisis, requiring the international community to scale up planning and funding urgently.
As part of the Syria Crisis Appeal launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), CAFOD will scale up its humanitarian response work both inside Syria and with refugees on the border in Turkey and Lebanon. Programmes supported by CAFOD will reach tens of thousands of vulnerable people whose daily living standards have plummeted because of the conflict.
CAFOD’s regional partners within the Caritas network – a coalition of Catholic aid agencies around the world – report that many Syrian communities are struggling to survive amidst the chaos and destruction. With food and water supplies cut off by the fighting, families fleeing the constantly moving frontline find it extremely difficult to provide for themselves.
Every day, thousands of Syrians who can escape the violence are streaming across the borders into Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Many settle in refugee camps that are fast becoming overcrowded, with basic camp resources severely overstretched.
Mike Noyes, CAFOD’s Head of Humanitarian Programmes, said: “The needs are great, both inside and outside Syria, and there is a dearth of funding for vital humanitarian aid. Coming together under the DEC banner means that British aid agencies can draw attention to the humanitarian tragedy unfolding before our eyes.
“We have increased our support to our partners at Caritas Lebanon to make sure they can reach the most vulnerable people who cross over the border. We are scaling up our work in Syria and Lebanon in particular and the public’s generosity will allow us to work with our local Caritas colleagues to reach those in the greatest need across the region.”
According to the United Nations, more than one million people have fled Syria because of the fighting including a staggering 220,000 people in February alone – 1 per cent of the Syrian population. Inside Syria, more than two million civilians are homeless, and to date the conflict has left more than70,000 people dead.
CAFOD has strong relationships with trusted partners inside Syria, who are able to channel humanitarian aid to where it is needed in both government-held and rebel-held communities. Some of CAFOD’s partners are operating at great risk to their own safety, and it is not possible to talk in detail about the work that they are doing for fear of jeopardising their security, and cutting off vital life-lines to vulnerable communities.
Mike Noyes said: “Syria is a complex emergency response, and the situation is very fluid. Additional funds from the DEC Syria Crisis Appeal will mean that our local church partners will be able to continue to access hotspots on both sides in the conflict, and get vital food, supplies and medicines through.
“We mustn’t forget those local aid workers, priests and volunteers, who put their lives at risk every day, dodging bullets and bombs to reach the people who have been worst hit by this crisis. The donations for this appeal from the Catholic community in England and Wales will show those individuals and the communities they are helping that they have not been forgotten, and are receiving both our support and prayers.”