As conflict in Syria continues without signs of abating the humanitarian consequences of the 20-month long crisis has rapidly spilled over into neighbouring countries. With 1.2 million internally displaced people, over 340,000 refugees and countless obstacles and challenges to humanitarian action, the humanitarian community faces the daunting task of addressing mounting humanitarian needs in an increasingly restrictive and dangerous environment.
Responding to the need for deliberation and coordination amongst humanitarian actors in Syria and neighbouring countries, HPG convened two high level roundtables. These brought together UN agencies, NGOs, donor representatives, and national and diaspora humanitarian groups to discuss the deepening political and humanitarian crisis, consider its impact on civilians caught up in the conflict and reflect on the response of the international and national community.
The first roundtable was held in the wake of the suspension of the UN mission in Syria, reports of another massacre in Qubair and a warning issued by former international envoy Kofi Annan that Syria was drifting toward civil war. Humanitarian actors on the ground shed light on the challenges confronting aid agencies and the moral dilemmas the humanitarian community continue to face in efforts to address the escalating humanitarian needs in accordance with humanitarian principles.
Following ICRC’s declaration that the conflict in Syria should be treated as a civil war, the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate, displacing over 230,000 Syrians to neighbouring countries by the end of August. HPG convened a second roundtable to explore the humanitarian response within Syria and consider the regional humanitarian dimensions of the conflict. The discussion provided an opportunity for humanitarian partners to discuss the evolving humanitarian situation and explore how best to respond to the needs of all those caught up in the conflict.
Summary notes of the discussions are available here: roundtable 1; roundtable 2