Oxfam in Syria addresses the Valdai Discussion Club

On September 30 Valdai Discussion Club hosted an international panel discussion on the Syrian crisis. Moutaz Adham, the Country Director for Oxfam in Syria, was featured as a panelist.

During his presentation, the Country Director 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”.

The key points from Moutaz’s presentation:

-          Humanitarian situation in Syria has been worsening. In a context where 60% of Syria’s population has fled since the start of the conflict, Covid-19 has added to the deepening economic crisis and has resulted in the cost of basic necessities increasing by 250%. Additional 700 000 children are facing hunger as a result.

   -          The 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.To this end, humanitarian agencies look to gain permission to deliver aid to various regions of the country. Oxfam is currently working to assist populations in several Syrian government-controlled regions from its office in Damascus.

   -          Gender inequality impedes progress in rebuilding Syria. Many households are now run by women, who do not have ownership rights to land and houses, and therefore INGOs cannot always help the families to repair and reconstruct their damaged houses as they cannot obtain necessary permits.

   -          International humanitarian agencies welcome assistance from other countries. Some of them can provide financial assistance, while others help facilitate dialogue between the humanitarian actors. The Russian Embassy in Damascus may consider hosting meetings with INGOs working in Syria.

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

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

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