Four British charities have publicly admitted for the first time that they are operating inside Syria on the eve of a major appeal for the stricken Middle Eastern nation which is being launched tomorrow by the Disaster Emergency Committee.
It is the first time a joint appeal has been launched for Syria following two years of fighting which has killed more than 70,000 people and forced an estimated three million from their homes.
Staff with Islamic Relief, Save the Children, Christian Aid and CAFOD are all taking extraordinary risks delivering aid directly to those affected by the on-going war as well as those who have managed to find sanctuary in neighbouring countries.
The DEC said that the majority of its members were already supporting work inside Syria but most could not talk in any detail about their activities without putting their work and workers at risk. But some of their members were willing to go public with their work to reassure potential donors that any aid raised with their money will go to those inside Syria.
“By coming together under the banner of the DEC we can reveal a little more about the extent of the aid effort inside Syria,” said DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed: “There is still however much we cannot say about the work of most individual agencies. We want to be as open as possible but that has to be balanced against ensuring this vital work can continue and keeping those delivering aid safe.”
Samina Haq, Islamic Relief’s head of UK programmes, recently returned from a highly dangerous fact finding mission inside Syria. Ina recent blog post she detailed some of the intense difficulties in accessing a war zone with no humanitarian corridors.
“I’ve visited many camps of this kind but what struck me the most about Syria was the lack of any international presence and limited camp management,” she wrote. “We were confronted with total chaos and immense human suffering.”
To make a donation to the DEC Syria Crisis Appeal visit: www.dec.org.uk, call the 24 hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000