Desperate Syrian refugees need more help, say Churches on eve of donor conference

Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in their country walk with their families after crossing into Jordanian territory, near the town of Ruwaished city east of the capital Amman, on January 14, 2016.Reuters

Four major UK Churches have called on governments to provide substantial new funding for Syrian refugees.

The call from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church comes on the eve of the 2016 international pledging conference for Syria, taking place in London.

The UK, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, and the United Nations will co-host the conference tomorrow aimed at raising significant new funding to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of those affected.

In 2015, following the last international appeal by the UN, only 43 per cent of the required funds were raised.

The UN has stated that a further $7.7 billion will be required in aid to help the vulnerable people in Syria and support Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, who host the vast majority of Syria's 4.6 million refugees.

Among those expressing concern about the situation is King Abdullah of Jordan, who said yesterday his country was at "boiling point" because of an influx of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.

The king told the BBC there was enormous pressure on Jordan's social services, infrastructure and economy.

"Sooner or later, I think, the dam is going to burst," he warned.

During the last few decades Jordan has welcomed Palestinians, Iraqis, and now so many Syrians that they make up nearly 20 per cent of the population.

King Abdullah said: "For the first time, we can't do it any more."

Warning that churches have been targeted even while full of worshipers on a Sunday, Dr Mary Mikhael, spokesperson for the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, said: "As the Syrian tragedy continues to unfold, the Christian community is deeply concerned about its future. Churches and ancient cathedrals in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, and other places are being purposely targeted by armed groups, and many have been destroyed.

"Will Syria, once considered the cradle of Christianity, become empty of the nation's Christian community? This is our deep fear. Over 1.2 million Syrians have fled into nearby Lebanon and continue to endure unimaginable hardship. The Christian communities of Syria and Lebanon appeal for peace, justice and relief for the millions displaced and refugees."

John Ellis, moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, said: "We welcome the UK's commitment to aid for Syria, and our Government's initiative in hosting this international pledging conference in London. We want every refugee child in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to have the opportunity to attend school – but this aim, as outlined by the United Nations, needs funding."

Frances Guy, Christian Aid's head of Middle East region and the UK's former ambassador to Lebanon, said: "Let's remember the Syrians at the heart of this conference: the Syrians trapped inside besieged areas in Syria, and the Syrians who have managed to flee to places of relative safety inside Syria and in neighbouring countries.

"They all need basic humanitarian assistance and some stability in their lives. This means stopping the bombing, guaranteeing that aid can reach all those in need wherever they are and allowing those who have fled their homeland opportunities to contribute to the societies that are so generously hosting them, as well as provide for their own families in dignity."