Posted by Nicole Khamis on July 24, 2015 in Blog

Funding is drying up for Syria. This is not recent news, however. In 2014, the World Food Program (WFP) warned it was running out of money after an 89% funding shortfall.

Now, only 25% of the necessary funding needed for Humanitarian Aid groups in Syria has been raised-partly due to other crisis around the world, and partly as interest decreased in a conflict that has now become old news for many.

The UN World Food Program has made urgent calls to donors to halt the slow rolling crisis. WFP is the largest provider of food assistance to more than 1.7 million Syrian Refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. The severity of the funding situation has been exacerbated, with WFP having to cut its food voucher program and halving rations to 500,000 refugees.

The numbers of the grave humanitarian crisis are staggering –more than 4 million Syrians have evacuated while 7.6 million are internally displaced. The uprising against Assad’s regime shows no sign of slowing down. The situation is unfolding extremely quickly, and the funding mechanisms are not keeping up; the world seems no longer able to respond to Syria’s crisis in the urgent way that is so badly needed.

The UN’s WFP and grassroots humanitarian aid groups supporting those affected by the conflict in Syria are being squeezed dry. Diaspora groups can and should do more to help.

There must be an effort to refocus western interests, and specifically members of the Syria Diaspora, back into Syria. An appropriate vehicle that fills both gaps of humanitarian aid is the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance (IDEA).

Passionate about connecting Diaspora groups back to their countries of origins to sustain economic development in those countries and thus elevating Diaspora communities, programs like IDEA could engage individuals in the Syrian diaspora in a more effective way by encouraging partnerships in the West with grassroots and larger humanitarian aid groups.

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) is a shining example of the role diaspora communities can play in providing a helping hand in Syria.

SAMS is engaged in medical relief and healthcare development in Syria administered by Syrian American healthcare professionals. This harnesses the talent of Syrians who have a direct stake in the conflict and a fervent desire to help. Diaspora groups, exemplified in SAMS, have potential that is widely untapped, and could change the game for providing targeted humanitarian assistance.

Nicole Khamis is an intern with the Arab American Institute