Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Time for Action to Stop Tragedy of Syria Crisis; the Syria Conflict Is Creating a Humanitarian Crisis of Epic Proportions, Writes Nicola Blackwood MP Who Has Been Visiting Refugees in Beirut

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Time for Action to Stop Tragedy of Syria Crisis; the Syria Conflict Is Creating a Humanitarian Crisis of Epic Proportions, Writes Nicola Blackwood MP Who Has Been Visiting Refugees in Beirut

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicola Blackwood MP

TWO years into the Syrian crisis, with more than 70,000 dead and millions injured and displaced, we as conflict observers are at the unpalatable stage where Syrian stories now have to hit a new low in the horror stakes to seem significant or newsworthy.

I have just spent three days in Beirut with Oxfam where I met Palestinian and Syrian refugees who have fled the fighting in the past few months. I met Lebanese school teachers, business owners, police officers, lawyers and aid workers. I wanted to know how Lebanon was coping with the impact of the crisis.

Inevitably, so far the situation inside Syria itself has been the focus of international attention and this will form part of discussions at next month's G8 summit. But it has to realise any conflict has regional implications as people scatter and neighbouring economies destabilise.

Unlike Libya, for example, Syria is a small country and refugees have nowhere to go but out -- into Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. This is one reason why refugee numbers are vastly outstripping all predictions and all resources. Although the [pounds sterling]1.5 billion pledged at the January Donor Conference in Kuwait sounds impressive, only a fraction seems to have materialised (although I am proud to say that the UK has honoured its pledges so far). Even if every donor paid up in full, if the exodus continues at the current rate, [pounds sterling]1.5 billion will be needed every couple of months just to cover the basics of food, water and shelter.

Already refugee numbers are barely comprehensible -- there are 424,000 registered in Jordan and it is estimated that will rise to 1.2 million by the end of the year, a fifth of the Jordanian population. Lebanese estimates show that registered and unregistered refugee numbers have already topped the one million mark -- that is a quarter of their population. …

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