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Issue #1718      February 10, 2016

Double aid funding for Syria

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the peak body for aid and humanitarian NGOs, says the government should double the level of aid Australia provides in support of people affected by the ongoing crisis in Syria.

ACFID’s call came as Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, left for the Syria Donors Conference in London on February 4, which brought together governments to discuss the largest humanitarian crisis in decades.

“Australia contributed $44 million to this crisis last year. Meanwhile, recent analysis by Oxfam shows that a fair commitment of Australian funding to Syria would be $125.1 million over the course of 2016. We have to lift our game,” said ACFID chief executive Officer, Marc Purcell. “We’re expecting to see Australia’s international counterparts significantly increasing their commitments to Syria.

“Australia’s past response has been important, and Ms Bishop’s presence in London is a very positive sign. But the scale of the Syrian crisis means we cannot take a business as usual approach,” said Mr Purcell.

“The Australian Aid Program has in reserve only $120 million to provide humanitarian support for the range of crises that arise over the course of the year. The scale of global humanitarian demand means our Emergency Fund is ill equipped to meaningfully contribute to humanitarian response in the world.“

He said ACFID calls on the Australian government to at least double the Emergency Fund in May’s budget.

Australia should continue to support better outcomes in health and nutrition, agriculture and food security, addressing the lack of adequate shelter for refugees and displaced people and ensuring protection.

“It is women and children who are forced to bear the brunt of funding shortfalls, therefore, in addition to a greater contribution of funds, we call on the government to ensure that peace talks are inclusive of Syrian women and civil society in any negotiation process.”

Australian NGOs have been responding to the Syrian crisis since it began in 2011. ACFID members are working on the ground with partners in Syria and neighbouring countries to help people and to assist them in gaining access to adequate shelter, health, education, and protection services.

To date, Australian NGOs have raised more than $16 million from the Australian public to support their work.

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