Commenting on the seventh anniversary of the Syrian uprising, Máiréad Collins, Advocacy Officer on Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, said:
“Seven years ago this week, on the tails of the Arab Spring, Syrians took to the streets to demand reform. The subsequent conflict shows no sign of abating and it continues to destroy lives and wreak havoc on the future of Syria and the region.
“We said this last year, we said it the year before. The sickening thought is that we will say it again next year and all that will have changed is there will be more people dead, while hope for something better will be even weaker.
“More than 400,000 people have now been killed, nearly 20,000 of them children. Amnesty International has reported on as many as 13,000 detainees killed in Syrian government prisons during the conflict, while tens of thousands have disappeared into detention centres.
“To escape the horrors, more than six million Syrians have fled, often repeatedly, in search of safety within the country. Another five million have sought safety in neighbouring countries. Some tried the perilous sea journey to Europe, with more trudging across land to find refuge.
“For every person that has returned to Syria, three more have been displaced. What were hoped to be temporary refuges for uprooted families have become, for most, a protracted hell of uncertainty, growing debt, instability and hopelessness.
“An entire generation of children have mostly lost their education, and with it their hopes and dreams. More have not even had a childhood worth remembering – children who have known nothing except war, fear, uncertainty.”
What Christian Aid is calling for
Ms Collins added: “There can be no improvement in the lives of Syrians within Syria without a total cessation of violence by all parties and immediate, complete access for humanitarian aid – not piecemeal convoys once in a while that have had medical supplies removed.
“For those living as refugees, host countries must be supported to make policy changes that allow Syrian refugees to remain safely, to work and to get education for their children.
“The UK must continue to accept Syrian refugees and expand its pledged 20,000.
“Funding for this crisis must continue – both inside Syria and for those countries in the region hosting refugees.”