Syria five years on – Europe’s shameful failure to act | ActionAid UK

Syria five years on – Europe’s shameful failure to act

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On the five year anniversary of the Syria crisis, Mike Noyes, Head of Humanitarian Response at ActionAid, says:

“In the last five years, half of Syria’s pre-war population — more than 11 million people — have been killed or forced to flee their homes. At the current rate in five years’ time Syria will be all but annihilated.

“Currently 13.5 million people inside Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance. An entire generation of young people have been exposed to the horrors of war and denied access to basics services such as education and healthcare. An estimated 400,000 people are living in besieged areas where humanitarian access is limited, and where some are dying of starvation. The latest round of peace talks in Geneva must ensure a political solution for Syria as a matter of urgency. 

“In Europe, we’ve seen the worst refugee crisis since World War Two. ActionAid has witnessed first-hand, the desperate situation facing refugee mothers and children on the island of Lesvos.  Many arrive with nothing but the clothes they stand up in. They arrive cold, wet and traumatised, after long and dangerous journeys at the hands of human traffickers. The recent European Union deal to send back all migrants to Turkey in exchange for political and financial rewards is dangerous, irresponsible and could be illegal.

“The UK government has made a significant contribution to funding the needs of Syria’s displaced in the region however it’s response to refugees now reaching Europe is pitiful. The current plan to open our doors to 20,000 refugees  over five years is failing to listen to people’s cry for help and not nearly our fair share. That’s just six refugees per constituency a year – a tiny amount compared to the scale of the crisis. ActionAid is calling on the UK government to show leadership and commit to resettling a greater number of refugees including those arriving on Europe’s shores.”


For interviews and further information please contact Cora Bauer at ActionAid on Tel: +44 (0)203 122 0767 ; Mob: +44 (0)778 789 7467 or

Photo credit: Karin Schermbrucker/ActionAid