International appeals for Syria crisis less than 10% funded

Published: 29th March 2015

The number of people in need of assistance in Syria and beyond continues to rise dramatically, while funding is not keeping up. Wealthy countries meeting on Tuesday in Kuwait to pledge aid have a chance to turn this around, but they must dig deeper than last year. Failure to do so will have a devastating effect on millions of civilians in Syria and its neighboring countries, Oxfam said.

Aid actors estimate that $8.7 billion is needed in 2015 to support 18 million people in Syria and neighboring countries, the equivalent to a little more than one US dollar per person per day. Based on the size of rich countries’ economies, Oxfam has determined what an equitable share of the required funds would look like for each donor state. So far, for 2015, only the UK has pledged its ‘fair share’ ahead of the donor conference, and overall appeals are only 9.8% funded.

Pledges made at last year’s donor conference fell far short of needs. In 2014, a total of $7.7 billion was appealed for by aid actors to help civilians, but only 62.5% of that money was received by the end of the year.

‘Four years into the crisis, the humanitarian appeals are already stripped back to contain the bare minimum. With inadequate aid funds, more people in need will have to resort to desperate survival strategies such as child labor or early marriage,’ Andy Baker who leads Oxfam’s Syria crisis response said.

Oxfam has calculated that nearly half of the world’s top donors didn’t give their fair share of aid in 2014, based on the size of their economies, including Russia (7%), Australia (28%) and Japan (29%). Governments that gave their fair share and beyond included Kuwait (1107%), the United Arab Emirates (391%), Norway (254%) the United Kingdom (166%), Germany (111%), and the United States (97%).

Recent months have brought fresh hardship for crisis-affected people as UN agencies have had to significantly reduce vital assistance, and neighbouring countries have increasingly tightened their borders, effectively trapping people inside Syria.

 ”Three months into 2015, funding has trickled in painfully slowly – this year’s UN and Red Cross appeals* are underfunded by 90.2%. Donors meeting in Kuwait must do better than last year, individually and collectively, if they are not to fail the millions of people in need,” Baker said.

Beyond a fully funded humanitarian response, governments meeting in Kuwait must also seek other ways to address the spiralling crisis. Oxfam is again calling on wealthy countries to take in the most vulnerable 5% of refugees by the end of 2015 through resettlement or other forms of humanitarian admission. Currently there are pledges to resettle fewer than 2% of the 3.9 million refugees, and within an unclear timeframe.

“Oxfam’s analysis shows that many European countries are failing to provide a lifeline - countries that have pledged less than 10% of their fair share of places for resettlement or other forms of humanitarian admission include the UK, Italy, Spain, Poland and Portugal. With daily reminders that refugees living in desperate circumstances will risk their lives on dangerous journeys to cross the Mediterranean, Europe must stop turning a blind eye,” he said.

Some countries have led the way. Germany, Norway, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland all pledged more than or close to their fair share of both resettlement places and funds last year. Australia has pledged its fair share of resettlement places but a fraction of the aid.

Beyond aid and resettlement, governments in Kuwait have the collective weight to insist on an end to the crisis and the terrible violations which Syrian civilians face. They should unite behind a call for a renewed political process in line with the Geneva Communiqué of 2012, and all governments should halt supplies of arms and ammunition to Syria that continue to fuel the conflict.


(*Combined UN, ICRC, IFRC appeals as of 26 March 2015).


With inadequate aid funds, more people in need will have to resort to desperate survival strategies such as child labour or early marriage.
Andy Baker
Head of Oxfam’s Syria response

Notes to editors

  • Examples from Lebanon and Jordan depicting the impact of insufficient aid on refugees are available here.
  • Oxfam has developed two key indicators to help guide the level of commitment that each wealthy country should make in order to fairly alleviate the suffering of those affected by the Syria crisis:
  1. The level of funding each country makes available for the humanitarian response, relative to the size of their economy (based on gross national income);
  2.  The number of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries that each state has pledged to provide sanctuary through offers of resettlement or other forms of humanitarian protection, again based on the size of the pledging state’s economy. This does not include the numbers of people who have claimed and been granted asylum, as states have specific international legal obligations related to individuals who arrive on their territory seeking asylum.

Contact information

For interviews with Oxfam staff in Kuwait, Beirut or Amman (in English, Arabic, and French) contact Joelle Bassoul at or +961-71525218 @jobassoul.

For updates, please follow @Oxfam.