British MPs urge other nations to "pick up the slack" on Syrian aid

5 Jan 16

European countries and members of the OECD must pick up the slack in their aid funding to Syria and surrounding countries, UK parliamentarians have said. 

 

 

The UK’s International Development Committee, which scrutinises the work of the Department for International Development, commended British efforts to alleviate the Syrian crisis but said the under-commitment of others is deeply concerning.

Following an inquiry into the UK government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, the committee urged Britain to “apply more pressure on other donors” to meet international commitments and direct an appropriate proportion of Official Development Assistance funding to the Syrian crisis.

The report said that only half of the 2015 funding requirement for the crisis was filled as wealthy donors failed to meet their financial commitments. The MPs singled out France, Italy and Japan as paying less than a quarter of their fair share.

This has lead to increased poverty and vulnerability among Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon, who are often forced to turn to begging, child labour and prostitution to meet their basic needs.

The World Food Programme had to significantly scale back its operations in countries bordering Syria due to underfunding last year, the committee noted.

The crisis is creating financial strain in host countries too. Populations in Jordan and Lebanon have boomed with the influx of refugees, placing immense pressure on public services and generating significant social tensions between refugees and locals as competition for work and resources increases.

The MPs wrote that they are “gravely concerned” about the risk such tensions could “further contribute to regional instability”.

Deteriorating conditions in the region due to underfunding are also spurring onwards migration as refugees move on in search of a better quality of life in Europe in particular, the report noted.

Since the conflict in Syria began, DFID has allocated over £1.1bn in support, making the UK the second largest bilateral donor to the crisis. Analysis by Oxfam found that the UK is the only member of the G7 to have sufficiently contributed – sending 229% of its ‘fair share’ of funding to the region.

France, Japan and Italy on the other hand have contributed 22%, 24% and 21% of their fair shares respectively.

Wealthy countries recently reaffirmed international commitments to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid and development at the Financing for Development conference in Ethiopia last summer. However many are still “not being held to account for delivery against this commitment”, the report said.

The committee also urged the UK government to take an additional 3,000 child refugees, ensure the most vulnerable groups have fair access to resettlement and work towards creating opportunities for sustainable employment for refugees in the region. 

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