News / Press Releases

October 27, 2014

Berlin Conference: Don't exclude most vulnerable Syrian refugees from humanitarian aid

Handicap International is calling on States and international organizations attending the Berlin Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation on October 28, 2014, to ensure that the relief effort is fully inclusive of the most vulnerable people.

“Although people with disabilities, older people, and the sick are at the greatest risk, they find it difficult to access the assistance they need,” says Anne Héry, head of advocacy and institutional relations at Handicap International. “Because of the way they operate, international organizations, which deliver general, standardized aid, find it hard to reach them. Vulnerable people caught up in the Syrian crisis—one of the worst ever—must not be forgotten.

“Because the winter months will make life even harder for refugees than it is already, we’re calling on the international community to provide immediate and appropriate assistance,” adds Héry. “The humanitarian relief effort needs to cover basic needs and provide a sustainable response to a situation that, unfortunately, is unlikely to end anytime soon.”

The World Food Program recently announced a 40% reduction in aid to Syrian refugees in October, and 60% next November, which will make it difficult to meet the basic needs of vulnerable people, according to Handicap International.

Twenty Foreign Ministers and ten international organizations will attend the Berlin Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation, which is being organized by the German Foreign Minister, Franck-Walter Steinmeier, on October 28. Since it started in February 2011, the Syrian conflict has created more refugees than any other disaster since the UNHCR was established in 1950. According to the German Minister for Foreign Affairs, the conference will “mobilize urgently needed humanitarian assistance for millions of Syrian refugees.”

More than three million Syrians have taken refuge in other countries in the region, including 1.2 million in Lebanon alone, placing considerable pressure on a country with a normal population of 4.5 million. Egypt, Iraq, Turkey and Jordan have also taken in large numbers of refugees.

For Handicap International, refugees must be guaranteed support and protection. The countries neighboring Syria, which have taken in the largest number of refugees, cannot handle a crisis of this magnitude alone. Responsibility for case-managing refugees must be spread more evenly. The international community needs to increase the aid it supplies to refugees and ensure that those at most risk are included in the relief effort.

The organization has warned that, without considerable financial and political assistance for refugees and host communities, the situation in these countries will become untenable. It is also crucial to facilitate the work of international organizations in the field, in accordance with humanitarian principles.

About Handicap International
Handicap International is an independent international aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for more than 30 years. Working alongside persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our action and testimony are focused on responding to their essential needs and improving their living conditions, and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since it was founded in 1982, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, and the winner of the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Handicap International’s takes action and campaigns in places where “standing tall” is no easy task.