International aid to Syrians 'utterly inadequate:' Oxfam

A migrant woman holding a child arrives at the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey on Oct 5.
A migrant woman holding a child arrives at the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey on Oct 5. PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT (AFP) - Global efforts to help Syrians both inside and outside their war-torn country have proved "utterly inadequate", international aid group Oxfam said in a damning report on Wednesday (Oct 7).

The "Solidarity with Syrians" report analysed aid and resettlement opportunities for Syrian refugees provided by more than 28 countries, and said only a "handful" had been providing their fair share.

"The international community is proving utterly inadequate in helping Syrians both inside and outside their country," Oxfam said.

It criticised countries including Russia, which has not resettled any Syrian refugees and has only provided one percent of its fair share contribution to humanitarian aid, and France, which has only contributed 22 per cent of its fair share to aid.

"The aid response is faltering due to lack of funds - or more accurately, the lack of political will to loosen up funds," said Andy Baker, who heads Oxfam's Syria crisis response.

As violence intensifies, "many Syrians are literally jumping into the water to seek a better future" while "rich countries have ignored repeated alarm bells", he said.

Only 17,000 Syrians have so far been resettled in a third country. The slow resettlement process has pushed thousands more to try to reach Europe by a dangerous sea and land route.

Oxfam said the only laudable exceptions to their criticism - besides countries neighbouring Syria, which have taken in a majority of refugees - were Norway and Germany.

"Refugees from Syria and other countries have the right to be free from violence, to aid for basic needs and dignity, and to a welcome of safe haven," said Oxfam Executive Director Winnie Byanyima.

"They are being short-changed on all three fronts. There will be no end to the suffering of people from Syria until action is taken on these issues." More than four million Syrians have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries for safety, and millions more have been internally displaced since the bloody conflict began in 2011.