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Has NZ forgotten Syria after 10 years of war?

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A group of New Zealand aid agencies say the government needs to do more to help Syrians affected by decades of conflict. Photo / supplied

Twelve aid agencies have teamed up to call on the New Zealand Government to renew its funding for “forgotten” Syrian families and refugees whose lives have been ruined after a decade of conflict.

As millions flee and others fight in refugee camps or bombed-out towns and cities, with more than half of the country’s infrastructure destroyed, aid groups say New Zealand must do more to help them .

Several aid agencies in New Zealand have supported Syrian refugees in the war-torn decade, but struggled with the latest round of government funding in 2016 and the drying up of other funds.

Aid agencies – Oxfam, Save the Children NZ, Tearfund, Unicef, Adra, Anglican Missions, Caritas, CBM, CWS, Hagar, International Needs and World Vision say the Syrian conflict continues to cause misery for millions of refugees and those who are still trapped within the country.

Millions of people have fled Syria over the last turbulent decade.  Photo / supplied
Millions of people have fled Syria over the last turbulent decade. Photo / supplied

“In the 10th year of the war in Syria, we jointly urge the New Zealand Government and the international community to continue investing in long-term solutions for Syrian children so that the past decade does not determine their future,” he said. Tearfund NZ chief executive Ian McInnes today

“The aid remains a lifeline for all war-affected Syrians who are still struggling to access critical services including health, food, education and defense.”

In February, the UN reported a $ 9.81 billion funding gap to meet the needs of suffering Syrians.

The scale of the ongoing humanitarian need and economic cost of the 10 years of conflict in Syria has been set at $ 1.2 trillion, but humanitarian aid to Syria during that time has been only 1.6 percent of that amount.

New Zealand aid agencies say the decade-long war in Syria has done unimaginable damage to children.  Photo / supplied
New Zealand aid agencies say the decade-long war in Syria has done unimaginable damage to children. Photo / supplied

Although Syria makes up less than one percent of the world’s population, its people make up nearly a third of the world’s refugees.

“As the war has continued, the suffering of the people has been increasingly forgotten,” said World Vision NZ national director Grant Bayldon.

“While the funds have dried up, there is also the help that many Syrian families need to achieve.”

With the continuing impact of Covid-19, the escalation of climate change and a global economic recession, aid agencies face some difficult decisions.

But Rachael Le Mesurier, CEO of Oxfam NZ, says it is not the time to lose focus in Syria.

“We urge the New Zealand Government to renew its efforts to influence world leaders to find a political solution that can bring this conflict to an end and to make further financial assistance available to New Zealand aid agencies. “to help Syrian families and communities traumatized by 10 years of war.”

Unicef ​​NZ chief executive Michelle Sharp says the decade-long war in Syria has done unimaginable damage to children.

“Today, more than six million children need help, half a million are chronically malnourished, and in the last year alone, the reported number of children in psychological distress has doubled,” she said.

“Every child has the right to safety and we must urgently rethink a better world for Syrian children.”

Heidi Coetzee, chief executive of Save the Children NZ, says the children of Syria are paying the final price of this deadly and protracted conflict.

“We urge political leaders to urgently bring a peaceful solution to this conflict that has lasted 10 years too long,” Coetzee said.

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