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“Impossible choices” for aid agencies as Syrian people ‘Paying the Price’ for broken and delayed funding pledges

Press release1 February 2016

Ahead of Thursday’s Syria pledging conference in London, Concern’s new report finds refugees are ‘Paying the Price’ for unfulfilled and delayed funding promises for the humanitarian crisis and that the conference “must deliver, and deliver substantively".

Concern Worldwide, Ireland’s largest international aid organisation, has today published a research report ahead of a crucial pledging conference in London this week which the agency highlights the extent of broken funding promises made by donor countries to deal with the devastating impact of the five-year Syrian conflict. 

Concern has been responding to the ever-escalating refugee crisis in Syria’s neighbouring countries, Lebanon and Turkey, and inside Syria itself since 2013.

The Supporting Syria and the Region conference, to be held in London this Thursday 4 February, will bring together world leaders from around the globe to rise to the challenge of raising the money needed to help millions of people whose lives have been torn apart by the devastating civil war. The event is being co-hosted by the UK, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, and the United Nations.

The day before, Concern CEO Dominic MacSorley will participate in a civil society conference to raise awareness of the situation in Syria, with an emphasis on making the voices of Syrians heard and putting a spotlight on the experiences of Syrian people affected by the conflict.

Speaking on the release of the report, he said:

The shocking human impact of the Syria war is further compounded by unfulfilled promises and delayed funding for the humanitarian response by donor countries. Aid agencies, like Concern, are having to make impossible choices on a day to day basis when trying to deliver basic needs and services to Syrian refugees.

Dominic MacSorely

The key areas under discussion by governments at the London conference - education, livelihoods and protection - are the least well-funded. The consequences of underfunding are increased levels of poverty, further displacement, increasing social tensions and the risk of a ‘lost generation’ of children. The stark reality is that Syrians’ needs are not being met and that millions live in daily fear of what their future holds.

The urgency of this underfunding crisis cannot be overstated and the continuation of the war must not be used as an excuse to delay funding for the humanitarian response when, and where, it is needed most. The London conference must deliver, and deliver substantively.

In Concern’s new report – Paying the Price: Why donors must take a new approach to the Syria crisis – we have found that unpaid pledges are on the rise.  Where commitments have been made, the money is frequently arriving late in the day – negatively impacting on planning and humanitarian response. 

Key findings

  • Unfulfilled pledges as a percentage of funding to appeals increased from 0.16% in 2012 to almost 5% in 2014. In financial terms, this amounts to $381 million (€349m) in unhonoured pledges by donors between 2012 and 2014.
  • More than a third of funds pledged to Syria during 2015 had not been confirmed by early December that year.  
  • The Livelihoods and Social Cohesion sector was the least funded in the regional response in 2015. Education and Protection were funded at 44% and 57% respectively in 2015.

Dominic MacSorley added:

We are calling for donor countries to commit long-term, predictable funding streams and ensure sectors including protection, education and livelihoods are no longer neglected. Our report has found that these sectors, identified as strategic priorities in the response plans for the region, and key areas to be discussed at the conference itself, were among the most under-funded sectors in 2015.

Dominic MacSorely

The Paying the price report cites, as another relatively recent example, the case of the Kuwait II pledging conference, which was 90% funded overall. Yet, for Kuwait III, the latest figures (four months after the event) showed that only 35% of pledges are known to have been honoured. 

Jane holds her baby Mark (11 months) as a nurse uses a MUAC band to check his nutrition status. Photo: Ed Ram

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