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Syria 5th anniversary: The international community must keep working for peace

14 March 2016 - As the Syria conflict enters its sixth year and peace talks resume today in Geneva, Christian Aid implores the international community to keep on working for peace.

The conflict has devastated millions of lives; more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and over one million injured. Half the population is displaced.

With more than 4.6 million Syrians having fled the country and 6.6 million internally displaced Syria is the largest displacement crisis globally. Within the country 13.5 million remain in need of humanitarian assistance – including millions of children.

UN-led peace talks resume today in Geneva between Syria’s warring parties two weeks into a cessation of hostilities brokered by the US and Russia. 

The partial and temporary truce has seen reduced violence in Syria and more humanitarian aid getting into besieged areas; however both the opposition and the government have accused each other of violations.

Frances Guy, Christian Aid’s Head of Middle East said: “The cessation of hostilities may be fraying and peace talks look fragile, but we must build on this brief respite to offer Syrians hope that their country can be rebuilt and that violence can come to an end. 

“We urge all parties to the conflict to help make  the peace talks a success and bring an end to the conflict in Syria, help ensure continued humanitarian aid gets to those in need and give hope to the millions of people still suffering after 5 years of war. Shattered lives deserve to hope.

“As we reach the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian uprising it is easy to despair but despair is a betrayal of the positive and uplifting spirit of ordinary Syrians who continue to battle every day to help their fellow country men and women and who if given half a chance would return to rebuild their homes tomorrow.

“The cessation of hostilities is limited in effectiveness and the promises made at the donor conference in London at the beginning of February have not yet been translated into any real change on the ground. And yet it was the spirit of Syrian NGOs that shone through in London which brings hope to those living in besieged areas and should be a source of strength to us all.
“Five years on, with many warring factions and many interfering outside powers, making a peaceful solution seem ever more difficult, international NGOs must continue to give voice to those Syrians bringing succour to those in need in Syria and we must continue to do what we can to help those who have sought refuge inside Syria, in neighbouring countries and in Europe.  

“By helping Syrians wherever they are have access to livelihoods, education and health services we can help prevent a generation slip into despair and help them hold on to the spirit and the skills that will help rebuild their country, the day that peace is possible.

“Thanks to the generosity of the British public Christian Aid has raised more than £3 million for the Syria Crisis appeal 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”

More than a fifth of Syrian refugees have some form of disability, and encounter difficulties in accessing treatment. Christian Aid partner the Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union is supporting Syrian refugees with pre-existing disabilities or those with injuries as a result of the conflict access support services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

During times of conflict, everybody is affected by violence. However, women and girls are at greater risk of facing different forms of violence, including sexual and gender based violence. 

Kafa, a Lebanese organisation supporting women who are at risk of or have experienced exploitation and domestic violence, now opens its doors for the most vulnerable Syrian women and girl refugees in the Bekka Valley, eastern Lebanon. 

In Lebanon Christian Aid continues to support long term partners Association Najdeh in providing aid to support Palestinian refugees from Syria and Mouvement Social, who enable Syrian refugee children to continue their education as well as providing psychosocial support.

In Iraq our partner Asuda is providing legal, social and psychological support to Syrian refugee women and Rehabilitation, Education and Community Health is working with some of the most vulnerable refugee communities living in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, including providing vocational training and other job skills to help them find a way to make a living.

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

Notes to editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 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 ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter

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

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