Syria Update

Dear NZADDS Info-Update subscribers,

We are sure you are all following the situation in Syria and are aware how bad it is. The humanitarian catastrophe shows no sign of abating. 
Should you wish to take action we have two suggestions.

The first is to write to the New Zealand Prime Minister to request New Zealand takes greater action to help people in Syria.

The second you may have done already, but don’t let that stop you from doing it again: donate. 

We explain both options more below.

Please also consider forwarding this email to friends and family who are concerned about Syria and the surrounding countries.
Update on Syria and What You Can do to Help
Chemical weapons have dominated media coverage and discussions regarding the crisis in Syria over the past few months, culminating in the Security Council Resolution 2118. Meanwhile, war in Syria continues unabated. Civilians bear the consequences and are routinely denied humanitarian assistance because combatants will not allow humanitarian access (and see here). As Valerie Amos recently told the UN Security Council “words, despite their ability to shock, cannot really paint a picture of the grim and gruesome reality in Syria today”.
OCHA’s most recent Bulletin counts 2.1 million refugees or individuals awaiting registration, spread across Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Northern Africa. At least half of these people are children. Internally, there are 6.8 million people in need, 4.25 million of whom are displaced inside Syria after having to leave their homes – more than the entire population of New Zealand.
Many of you will have seen BBC footage (graphic, be warned) of the incendiary bomb attack in Northern Syria on 26 August 2013 (and follow-up). Dr. Rola, a Syrian-British doctor in Syria with the UK-based charity Hand in Hand for Syria summarised how many Syrians feel: “we just don’t matter”.
Each of us has an opportunity to show Dr. Rola, and all Syrians, that they do matter. And we can encourage our government to do the same. After all, if the New Zealand government can lobby for UN Security Council reform as part of New Zealand’s bid for a seat on that Council, the government can also take diplomatic action to advance peace and humanitarian access in Syria.

In terms of financial support, New Zealand has given US$6.18 million (NZ$7.46 million). Globally, governments have only provided 53.6% of the funds requiredOxfam’s calculation of New Zealand’s fair contribution would see New Zealand giving US$10 million. New Zealand needs to give another US$4 million to contribute its fair share to help. 

The UNHCR recently launched the Syria resettlement/Humanitarian Admission Programme. This programme encourages states to offer places for Syrian refugees over and above individual states’ usual refugee quota. New Zealand is cited as one of the 17 countries that have made commitments to accept Syrian refugees. However, this has not been announced in New Zealand and refugee advocates are not aware of New Zealand’s commitments. Greater clarity on this issue is required, including information about how many refugees New Zealand will be taking.

What can you do to assist? You can write to the New Zealand Prime Minister and/or Minister of Foreign Affairs to request the New Zealand government takes greater action — action through using our voice in international fora to promote a negotiated settlement; action through more aid; and action through allowing more refugees to enter New Zealand. Action in all of these areas would be easy, should the government care. On our website you can find a copy of the letter we recently sent to the New Zealand Prime Minister. Feel free to copy and adjust it for your own use. 

It is best to write a letter rather than email because government is required to reply to a written letter. However, if all you have time to do is email, then please do so: and 
The New Zealand government needs to know New Zealanders care about what is happening in Syria and want New Zealand to play a stronger role in improving the situation of Syrian people.
Donating is another thing you can do to assist. There are a variety of organisations working to support Syrians both inside Syria and in surrounding countries. A list of New Zealand organisations who may be involved in providing services in and around Syria can be found here.
Nothing you do is too small. Your contribution does make a difference.

Jo Spratt for NZADDs Admin.


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