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Syria crisis: the human cost of four years of fighting

11 March 2015 - As the Syria conflict enters its fifth year this weekend, the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II continues to escalate. The need for the international community to redouble its efforts to bring about a political solution could not be greater, says Christian Aid.

Over 200,000 people have been killed inside Syria and half of the population has been forced to leave their homes.  More than seven and a half million people are internally displaced and a further four million have fled to neighbouring countries.

It is estimated that more than 12 million people inside Syria, and millions more refugees across Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan are now in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the conflict.  The UN has described it as ‘the worst humanitarian crisis of our time’.

Frances Guy, Head of Middle East at Christian Aid said, “It’s hard to ignore the relentless turmoil of the Middle East these days. But whilst all the UK headlines are dominated by the terror of the so-called Islamic State there is a danger we forget the millions of Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians, who have been forced to flee their homes.

“Families are living in cramped and overcrowded conditions in countries struggling to cope with the overwhelming number of refugees. Inside Syria itself, millions of people have been displaced from their homes, trying to seek sanctuary in safer parts of the country.

“And then there are those who can’t escape, trapped in besieged areas of Syria, men, women and children who are often used as pawns by one side or another in the fighting.

“In Yarmouk, a district of Damascus that was previously home to Syria’s largest Palestinian refugee community, thousands of Palestinians are still under siege, with little or no access to food or water dozens have died of starvation. Siege is a medieval form of warfare which deprives people of humanity and should be roundly condemned.”

Christian Aid’s partners in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria are working tirelessly to provide vital assistance to thousands of displaced families by distributing food, fuel for cooking, hygiene and sanitation kits, water containers, cash assistance and psychosocial support. 

In Lebanon, Association Najdeh, who already work with Palestinian refugees inside the country are providing fuel for cooking and psychosocial support. Christian Aid partner Mouvement Social has been providing valuable psychosocial support to hundreds of children.

Within Syria Christian Aid is responding through its ACT Alliance sister agency, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), to reach people with food, bedding, water clothes, shelter, healthcare and education.  To date they have reached over 2 million people in need.

Christian Aid partners are responding to the needs of some of the most vulnerable displaced communities; ASUDA has been working on a gender based violence programme for Syrian women in northern Iraq and the Lebanese Handicapped Union is providing badly needed direct services to Syrian refugees with disabilities.

Frances added. “Thanks to the generosity of the British public Christian Aid has raised more than £2 million which has enabled our partners to provide support to communities in desperate need, and we will continue to expand our work to reach the most vulnerable.”

To find out more about the Christian Aid Syria crisis appeal, or to donate, please visit the website www.christian-aid.org.uk/syria

If you would like further information or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson please contact Jo Rogers jrogers@christian-aid.org and 020 7523 2460. 24 hour press duty phone – 07850 242950  

Available Spokespeople:
Frances Guy, Head of Middle East. Frances has just returned from Lebanon and Iraq and will be in Edinburgh next weekend
Louise Finan, Emergency Advocacy Officer for Syria and Iraq.  Louise will actually be in Lebanon.
Máiréad Collins, Emergency Programme Manager.
Euan Cranshaw, Regional Emergency Manager.

Notes to editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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