Still Paying the Price? Progress on addressing the Syria crisis since the London Conference

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Report: Months after pledges, most donor nations fail to make good as Syrians suffer

In February, the “Supporting Syria and the Region” conference in London was hailed as raising the largest amount for a humanitarian crisis in a single day. But a new report from Concern shows that only a fraction of those funds have since materialized.

NEW YORK — As the World Humanitarian Summit begins today in Turkey, millions of Syrians continue to suffer as the relentless conflict heads toward its sixth year. Though many governments have made repeated pledges to support the urgently needed relief effort, an overwhelming majority of those pledges remain unfulfilled. $6 billion was promised for 2016 during the “Supporting Syria and the Region” London conference in February, but so far only $1.16 billion has been committed, says aid agency Concern Worldwide.

The aid agency published a new report, Still Paying the Price, stating that by mid-April 2016:

  • 94% of London conference donors had not turned their pledges into actual commitments
  • 18 donors had committed none of their funds
  • 98% of Saudi Arabia’s pledge, 96% of the UK’s pledge, over 89% of Germany’s and the EC’s pledges were all still outstanding
  • 42% of the United States’ pledge was committed. The U.S. has been the single largest donor to the Syria relief effort
  • Only three donors (Australia, Malta, Lithuania) had fully committed their funding pledges

The agency stated that rates of disbursement of the London Conference commitments remain low — putting action to save lives on hold and missing opportunities to take advantage of windows of humanitarian access, such as the recent cessation of hostilities.

Abby Bruell, Syria Policy Lead at Concern Worldwide (U.S.) said, “as world leaders gather in Istanbul this week for the World Humanitarian Summit to address the runaway levels of human suffering, it is important to remember that pledges are just words until they are translated into dollars. Syrians continue to pay the price for the unfulfilled promises of past pledges.”

The report also highlights that despite the huge need inside Syria, donors continue to allocate a larger percentage of funds to the regional response. At the London Conference, donors have so far allocated three times the amount of money to the regional Refugee and Resilience plan than to the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan.

Bruell continued: “The lion’s share of funding and attention has been given to the refugees. However, the majority of people inside Syria remain in precarious and vulnerable living conditions. This imbalance of funding needs to be addressed so that assistance reaches those most in need.”

Concern Worldwide is calling on participants of the London conference to speed up disbursements of cash, play their part in resettling refugees, and ensure that the monitoring of the commitments is kept up-to-date and publicly available.