Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

Syrian children in a United Nations refugee camp. (Photo: Mustafa Khayat/flickr/cc)

Close-Fisted Wealthy Nations Are 'Failing the People of Syria': Oxfam

While some small European countries are donating more than their fair share to aid Syrians, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Russia are still far behind

Nadia Prupis

Wealthy countries are still falling short of their obligations to help Syrians, five years into the crisis, according to a new analysis by the international aid group Oxfam, released Monday.

World leaders, who are gathering in London this week for a conference on supporting Syria and the region, must commit to pledges that will actively improve the lives of Syrian civilians and are proportional to wealthy nations' economies, the "fair share" analysis (pdf) states. As of now, donations to aid groups and efforts to resettle refugees have amounted to "little more than token gestures."

"The world is failing the people of Syria," said Oxfam Great Britain chief executive Mark Goldring. "Five years on since the start of the crisis the violence and suffering continues to escalate but the level of funding and support fails to match. Countries must do more to help in Syria, in the region and in resettling the most vulnerable."

In total, wealthy countries gave just 56.5 percent of the $8.9 billion needed by humanitarian organizations like the United Nations, the Red Cross, and other groups to provide aid within Syria or help resettle refugees fleeing violence, war, and poverty.

But certain individual countries did far less than they could. Russia, for example, gave just one percent of its fair share in 2015, donating $6.9 million to the aid groups, despite having the funds to donate $683 million. As the Middle East Eye pointed out in its reporting on the analysis, "Moscow is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has supported the embattled government with air strikes against various rebel groups."

The U.S., which is both the largest donor to Syrian aid appeals and is also leading the military coalition currently conducting air strikes throughout the country, contributed 76 percent of its capacity at a little over $1.5 billion, while it could have given $2.6 billion.

Due to military sieges and bureaucratic blockades carried out by all sides of the conflict, millions in Syria are not receiving the humanitarian aid that's already been paid for, the analysis continues.

And European countries—even those that have contributed 100 percent or more of their fair share—are falling short in other ways, such as failing to ensure that refugees receive safe and legal passage across borders or have access to stable employment and housing.

"With no prospect of returning home soon, refugees are stuck between a rock and a hard place: receiving less aid, and unable to sustain themselves without the right to work or valid residency permits," said Andy Baker, head of Oxfam's Syria crisis response. "Refugees are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Participants in the conference can't sit by and watch this happen."

New Zealand, Qatar, and the Republic of Korea were also among the lowest contributors, respectively donating 15 percent, 17 percent, and 5 percent of their fair shares. Saudi Arabia gave 28 percent.

Meanwhile, smaller countries like Denmark, Kuwait, and Norway, all gave more than 300 percent of what Oxfam deems equitable—and in Kuwait's case, more than 500 percent.

In addition to sustained financial aid, Oxfam said nations must give some form of humanitarian admission to 10 percent of refugees currently registered in Syria's neighbors, a total of about 460,000 people. "Collectively, rich nations have so far offered places to 128,612 Syrians - only 28% of the minimum they should," the group said.

"Our calculations of commitments that rich countries need to make on aid and resettlement are the bare minimum, and they are repeatedly falling far short," Baker said. "The London conference has to be a turning point."

Delegates are meeting this week in Geneva for peace talks as the crisis in Syria escalates. And the European Union police agency Europol announced Monday that more than 10,000 refugee and migrant children have disappeared in the past 18 to 24 months.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Congress 'Asleep at the Switch' as Biden Continues Trump-Era Ploy to Privatize Medicare

More than 1,500 physicians warn that the experiment threatens "the future of Medicare as we know it."

Jake Johnson ·


Number of Covid Boosters Given in US Exceeds Single Shots in 8 African Nations Combined

"Our leaders' failure to help bring the vaccines to everyone, everywhere will keep us on a cruel and never-ending cycle of illness, death, and economic suffering."

Jake Johnson ·


Omar Hangs Up After Boebert Uses Call to Double Down on 'Outright Bigotry and Hate'

"Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments."

Jessica Corbett ·


Win for Alabama Workers as NLRB Orders New Union Vote After Amazon's Alleged Misconduct

A union leader said the decision confirmed that "Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace."

Jessica Corbett ·


'For the Sake of Peace,' Anti-War Groups Demand Biden Return to Nuclear Deal With Iran

"It's time to put differences aside and return to the Iran nuclear deal," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo