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UK Charities Join Forces for Syria Crisis Appeal

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) in the United Kingdom launched an appeal on March 21 for up to 5 million people affected by the conflict in Syria.
The announcement follows a dramatic deterioration in the humanitarian situation since the beginning of the year.

The DEC brings 14 leading U.K. aid charities together in times of crisis, including CAFOD, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Tearfund and World Vision – all collectively raising money to reach those in need quickly.

The majority of the DEC’s members were already supporting work inside Syria but most could not talk in any detail about their activities without putting their work and workers at risk. Despite these efforts, huge and urgent unmet needs remain.

The British Red Cross is supporting the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), which is reaching 2 million people each month.

SARC is working to meet the needs of vulnerable people all over Syria, including government-controlled areas and across front lines.

Other DEC agencies are supporting work that has reached 920,000 people in areas including Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and areas across northern Syria.

Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, Save the Children and CAFOD have all confirmed publicly that they are supporting the delivery of aid inside Syria.

DEC member agencies are also helping some of the more than 1 million refugees who have fled to neighboring countries.

“By coming together under the banner of the DEC, we can reveal a little more about the extent of the aid effort inside Syria,” Saleh Saeed, DEC chief executive, said. “There is still, however, much we cannot say about the work of most individual agencies. We want to be as open as possible but that has to be balanced against ensuring this vital work can continue and keeping those delivering aid safe.

“Despite the efforts of our member agencies and others, there are huge and urgent unmet needs, both in Syria and the surrounding countries,” Saeed said.

“In Syria, the greatest challenge to meeting those needs remains the barriers to delivering aid, which are faced by impartial humanitarian agencies, such as our members. The lack of funds are also a critical constraint though – both for work in Syria and the surrounding countries.”

There are now more than 3 million people who have been forced to flee their homes because of the fighting in Syria.

While 1 million have fled to neighboring countries, the other 2 million are trapped in a country where the health system has collapsed in many areas, water supplies have been disrupted and food is often in short supply.

The number of refugees fleeing the country each day has increased from 1,000 at the beginning of the year to more than 8,000 today.

The total number in need of assistance in Syria and the surrounding countries is more than 5 million: 1 million refugees, 2 million internally displaced and 2 million still living at home in Syria but requiring assistance.

DEC member agencies are committed to providing support to people from all communities affected by the conflict based on need alone.

A version of this article appeared originally in The Baptist Times of Great Britain and is used with permission.