Written by Julie Delahanty
Executive Director, Oxfam Canada
Canadians couldn’t have asked for a more optimistic start to 2016 than to begin the new year knowing that our country will be welcoming 25,000 Syrian refugees to resettle in Canada. The looks of gratitude and relief on the faces of the first families to arrive last month, amid a coast-to-coast clamour of welcomes from Canadians, was a powerful reminder of just how seriously we take our global humanitarian role. We’re a nation that steps up when it counts.
That commitment extends to helping Syrians in their own country as well. Just last week, the Canadian government extended its commitment to continue the Syrian Emergency Relief Fund until the end of February. I was proud to stand with Minister Bibeau and other partner organizations as she announced the extension. This gives organizations like Oxfam two more months to raise funds for Syrians affected by the war knowing that every dollar raised by Oxfam and other Canadian charities involved in the program will be matched by the federal government up to $100 million.
In addition to our work with refugees in neighbouring countries, Oxfam is one of the few international NGOs still on the ground in Syria, a country devastated by five years of civil war. Half of Syria’s 22 million people have been displaced since 2011. More than 200,000 have died in the conflict. Women have been particularly affected by violence and including rape, sexual harassment and forced and too early marriage when they flee to neighbouring countries. Some three million school-age children in Syria are no longer able to attend classes due to the massive disruption caused by the conflict.
We have all seen the terrible images coming out of the besieged town of Madaya. Oxfam and fellow International aid agencies working in Syria welcomed the food aid that got into the area, but there are many Madaya’s throughout Syria and permanent humanitarian access is needed.
Thanks to the tremendous support of people like you, Oxfam has been able to get help to more than 1.6 million Syrians living in the region.
We are deeply grateful to our many supporters who help us keep people alive and in better health in a country where families continue to endure unbelievable hardship as the conflict drags on. You have our promise that we will continue to work hard for the people of Syria and that we continue to support the great many people in need in humanitarian crises around the world. Your ongoing donations are saving and changing lives.
To help us reach even more Syrian families in need, please donate here.