The civil war raging in Syria has reportedly killed 130,000 people and has led to millions of refugees. And just because it’s an ocean away doesn’t mean that the cost of war isn’t hitting close to your home. As the war has continued, so has the tragic need for aid, and the US on Wednesday pledged another $380 million in aid for the humanitarian crisis. That brings the US aid contribution for the conflict to around $1.7 billion, according to US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Lest you forget where the needed funds come from, Kerry thanked you for the money in comments released by his office. He noted that the additional funds were given “through the grace of the American people.”
While Syria’s innocents desperately need aid—and the Americans should be proud of their generosity—it underscores the general need to end the Syrian fighting quickly. A key peace conference to that effect will be held next week.
Of particular concern in all this are the Russians. A key player in the politics of the war as a major ally for the Syrian regime, the Russians need to convince the Syrian leadership to reach a ceasefire.
Perhaps one open door to pressuring Russia to put its own pressure on Syria is to highlight how little Russia has spent on the humanitarian disaster. While the US promised $380 million in just the latest fundraiser, the L.A. Times reported that Russia has given just $24 million to the current campaign, according to Oxfam America.
The L.A. Times noted that Russia had not given any additional funds at the latest conference, but could make a new pledge in the coming days.
In a press release, Amnesty International chided Russia for its inaction. “Russia, which has shown significant political interest in the Syrian crisis, has only made minimal contributions to the humanitarian effort,” said the press release.
They weren’t the only ones. Amnesty noted that at least one of the nations that made promises in the past failed to deliver.
The picture painted of Syria by Amnesty is dire. “Among those worst affected are those living inside Syria, including 6.5 million who are internally displaced. Many remain stranded in areas under blockade by government forces. They face severe food shortages and are dying of starvation,” said the press release.
“Outside Syria, those who have fled to neighboring countries also face tough conditions in poorly resourced refugee camps.”
And while our cost in dollars is nothing compared to the cost in human suffering, the latest numbers are another reminder that a war over there impacts life over here. It’s time to reach a ceasefire, now.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, January 16, 2014)