Islamic Relief’s CEO, Dr. Mohamed Ashmawey, has joined over 20 charity chiefs in urging the UK Government to continue to respond generously to the huge humanitarian needs of the Syrian people – and to press other aid donors to do the same at an important pledging conference in Kuwait City today.

In a letter to the Guardian newspaper ahead of the International Pledging Conference for Syria, Dr Ashmawey and 21 other chief executives of aid agencies and human rights organisations highlighted the devastating impact of the Syrian conflict and the vital importance of supporting the latest UN appeal.

“On Tuesday world leaders will meet in Kuwait, where the UN will request their support to fund the £5.6bn required to keep millions of people alive. This amount, to be shared among all nations, is barely more than Sky Sports spends on the rights to broadcast Premiership matches.

“Providing humanitarian assistance to Syria’s beleaguered people is no panacea – that requires a political solution – but it is a vital lifeline for millions of people left in the dark. In Kuwait, the British government must continue to pay, and urge others to commit to pay, their fair share in order turn the lights back on in Syria.”

“Humanitarian catastrophe”

The Kuwaiti International Pledging Conference for Syria, now in its third year, is a major United Nations conference aiming to gather aid for Syrians. This year, the UN has made an appeal to raise £5.6 billion as experts warn of a “humanitarian catastrophe” unfolding in the war-torn country, with last year being the worst since the conflict began. The UN special envoy for humanitarian affairs warned that “failing to meet the required funds” would end in a “horrifying…catastrophe.”

The UK government has been generous in its financial commitment to Syria, having given a total of £800 million to support Syrians inside Syria, and refugees in neighbouring countries Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. But the UK contribution in offering sanctuary to some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees has been disappointing. The UK has only settled 143 Syrian refugees, which is a tiny number compared to the scale of the need.

The UK’s financial commitment to the humanitarian response has been larger than any other, but aid agencies want to see a more generous response to receiving refugees, as other governments are doing.

Satellite images have shown that 83 per of the lights in Syria have gone out since conflict began in 2011. We have now entered the fifth year of devastating conflict and human loss.

Islamic Relief has been responding to the conflict in Syria since its onset, and so far has helped in excess of seven million people. Support our work: Donate to our Syria Crisis Appeal now, and join in the conversation at #4Syria.