Oxfam in Syria addresses the role of Russia at the Valdai Club Discussion

On September 30 Valdai Discussion Club hosted an international panel discussion to mark the 5th anniversary of the Russian involvement in addressing the Syria crisis. Moutaz Adham – the Head of Oxfam’s office in Syria represented Oxfam at the online meeting.

During his presentation, he shared about the scale and scope of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the country which has been war-ridden for nearly 10 years. Moutaz Adham also presented some of the lessons learned by Oxfam and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) during more than 5 years of delivering humanitarian aid to the population in the government-held areas of Syria. These learnings are summarized in the briefing paper titled “Hard lessons”.

Here are the key points from Mr. Moutaz Adham’s presentation:

-          Humanitarian situation in Syria is worsening. 60% of Syria’s population had to flee in search of safety. Covid-19 added up to the deepening economic crisis and resulted in over 250% rise in the cost of the basic necessities. More than 700 000 children go hungry.

-          Syrian population doesn’t want to depend on humanitarian aid. They need help in restoring basic infrastructure, securing access to services, and provide opportunities to secure their own livelihoods. In order to assist with it, humanitarian agencies are looking into securing humanitarian access to various regions of the country. Oxfam is currently working to assist populations in several Syrian government-held regions from its office in Damascus.

-          Gender inequality impedes progress in rebuilding Syria. Many households are now run by women, who don’t have ownership rights to land and houses, and therefore INGOs can’t always help them restore it.

-          International humanitarian agencies welcome assistance from other countries. Some of them can provide financial assistance, while others – help facilitate dialogue between the humanitarian actors. Russian Embassy in Damascus could host a meeting with various INGOs working in Syria.

-          Oxfam and NRC’s experience of working with the ministries and local governments in Syria suggests that it plays a positive role in securing humanitarian access and seeking permission to undertake Monitoring and Evaluation activities.

Ahead of the Valdai Discussion Club meeting, Mr. Moutaz Adham gave an interview to Marianna Belenkaya, the columnist at Kommersant, which is available here in the Russian language.


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