Australian Government must do more for Syria: World Vision says on eve of Kuwait conference

  • ‘Aid agencies can’t fix Syria alone’, says World Vision 
  • Increase in refugees outpacing the increase in funding by four to one

Children facing their fifth year of war need to be the focus of a major conference for Syria this week, humanitarian agency World Vision said today. 

Ahead of today’s donor conference in Kuwait (March 31), the humanitarian relief, development and advocacy organisation has issued a desperate plea, publicly and privately, to governments who will be attending, including the Australian Government. 

“As the conflict in Syria continues into its fifth year, we’re seeing signs that refugees – and the families who are hosting so many of them – are increasingly unable to cope,” said World Vision spokesperson Frances Charles, from Jordan. 

“As a humanitarian organisation, we will continue to strive to reduce the suffering of children, but ultimately we can’t solve the root cause of this problem – we need governments to step up and help end the suffering.” 

World Vision says Syria’s biggest problems are:

Greater need, less money:

  • At the end of 2014 the UN appeals for the Syria crisis – the largest in their history – were only 54% funded, down from the previous year when they were 71% funded. 
  • So far in 2015, funding has yet to reach even 10%. 
  • Since 2012, the number of Syrian people in need has grown twelve-fold, from 1 to 12 million, while the annual funding for the UN has increased just three-fold. 

Syria’s children bear the brunt:

  • 7.5 million Syrian children are in need of humanitarian aid.
  • 2.6 million Syrian children are no longer in school and close to 2 million are refugees in neighbouring countries.

Life for refugees is getting worse:

  • There are now almost four million Syrian refugees who are living in neighbouring countries, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
  • The huge influx of Syrian refugees into neighbouring countries has placed immense economic strain on these countries, which threatens to destabilise an already fragile region.
  • As the conflict in Syria shows no signs of abating, the scale of this humanitarian crisis continues to escalate and there is an urgent need for donors to pledge funding to meet the needs of Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities impacted by this crisis.

“The situation for many is so bad that we’re effectively making people who’ve fled a conflict choose an at-times dehumanising existence, to try and seek illegal immigration routes, or to return to the warzone. All of these options pose a real prospect of serious harm to children,” said Ms Charles.

“Neighbouring countries should and cannot be expected to carry the costs of the refugee influx alone. Unless addressed, tensions between host and refugee communities will continue to rise as competition for resources, services, and employment opportunities intensifies. 

“We need to see a reversal in these worrying trends, and we need governments gathered in Kuwait this week to lead the way.”

World Vision is joining with other organisations in Kuwait to plead with governments to:

  • Increase the amount pledged compared to 2014, particularly increasing direct funding for international and national NGOs
  • Encourage each other to give more
  • Increase direct bilateral development assistance to hosting governments
  • Help move from emergency response to longer-term resilience-building interventions
  • Ensure that Syria’s neighbouring states keep their borders open
  • Ensure sufficient needs-based funding is provided to the most vulnerable crisis-affected communities
  • Ensure that the ongoing generosity of host countries is met with ongoing and equivalent generosity of the international community.

“We want to see some real pressure on all parties to the conflict to end fighting and enter into meaningful, inclusive peace talks.  This week in Kuwait, they must commit to using their leverage to urgently find a solution to the conflict and end the suffering of all civilians in and from Syria.”


Frances Charles is available for interview during the Kuwait Conference. World Vision Australia head of Humanitarian & Emergency Affairs Majella Hurney is also available for interviews from Australia. 

Media contact: Chloe Adams – 0428 752 553 /

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