(Photo: REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman)
The world's top donors are as much as $2.7 billion short in aid money for Syrians affected by the ongoing civil war crisis, a report by international aid agency Oxfam has revealed.
"Too many donor countries are not delivering the level of funds that is expected of them," said Colette Fearon, head of Oxfam Syria program. "While economic times are tough, we are facing the largest man-made humanitarian disaster in two decades and we have to seriously address it. The scale of this crisis is unprecedented and some countries must start to show their concerns to the crisis in Syria by putting their hands in their pockets."
The two-and-a-half year civil war in Syria between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebel fighters has been called "the great tragedy" of the 21st century by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in which over 100,000 people have lost their lives and over 2 million have fled as refugees.
The world's attention was especially gripped by the chemical weapon attacks on civilians in August, which killed over 1,429 people, including more than 400 children. World powers such as the U.S. and Russia have clashed over the proper response to the mass killing, and are currently working out a deal to have Assad surrender Syria's chemical weapons by 2014.
And while Oxfam has urged the world's powers to come up with a political solution to the crisis, the agency is warning that important donors such as France, Qatar and Russia must also play their part in funding close to $5 billion in appeals for aid from the U.N. The research is based on data from the U.N.'s Financial Tracking Service, the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund, ECHO (The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Department), and other bilateral contributions confirmed by donors.
"Countries such as France and Russia are failing to provide the humanitarian support that is desperately needed. Donors must make good on their pledges and ensure that the money is delivered as soon as possible. This is not the time for empty promises. The situation demands committed funds in order to save lives," Fearon continued.
The research is being released in advance of high-level donor country meetings on Tuesday, Sept. 24 and Wednesday, Sept. 25 in New York, which will take a look at how much aid should be sent by each nation when considering their Gross National Income (GNI) and overall wealth.
Oxfam claims that Qatar and Russia have committed only 3 percent of what would be considered their fair share, while France is below the half-way mark at 47 percent. The United States has pledged 63 percent of its fair share, but other countries have given much more and even exceeded expectations – Denmark has given 230 percent of its fare share, Kuwait 461 percent, Norway 134 percent, Saudi Arabia 187 percent, Sweden 132 percent and the U.K. 154 percent.
All in all, the $5 billion appeal for Syria launched by the U.N. in June, the largest ever in its history, is only 44 percent funded.
"When funding is so tight every aid dollar counts. We're seeing people go without food, shelter and water on a daily basis. By knowing who is providing what assistance and where, we can help as many people as possible," Fearon added.