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"Real" change needed in Syria, says Christian charity

by Hannah Tooley

The future of millions of Syrians is being discussed on Thursday, focusing on rebuilding livelihoods and ensuring children go to school.

Louise Finan, Middle East Advocacy Officer at Christian Aid, told Premier people must listen: "They need to be able to get access to humanitarian aid, those living in towns besieged by all sides, they need to be able to access food and water - basic life-saving essentials.

"At the very least for Syrians inside Syria, they need to know that there is a hope."

Martial Trezzin/Keystone via APi

Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria 

Christian Aid says that it key that the voice of Syrians are heard, she said: "It's an opportunity for agencies, for NGO's and for different civil society grass roots organisations to really discuss the horrific challenges and bring to the fore the horrific challenges facing Syrians after five years of conflict."

Louise Finan stressed that real change is needed: "I really hope that there will be an actual focus on Syrians, a real focus on tangible change, and whether that's for Syrians living inside Syria still or living in daily fear of their lives in some areas, Syrians need an end to the bombing.

"They need a cease fire."

She added: "They need to know that their children will be able to good to school."

According to Christian charity World Vision:
13.5 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance
4.6 million Syrians are refugees, and 6.6 million are displaced within Syria; half are children
Most Syrian refugees remain in the Middle East, in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt; about 10 percent of the refugees have fled to Europe

Frances Guy, Christian Aid's Head of Middle East Region the UK's Former Ambassador to Lebanon, speaking before the conference, Civil Society Conference on Supporting Syria and the Region, said: "We should not lose sight of what Syrians need today.

"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."

She added: "Beyond Syria and its neighbours Syrians are still fleeing to Europe - they need borders to be kept open, they need safer routes to seek refuge and they need to be treated with respect and dignity."

Listen to Premier's Hannah Tooley speak to Louise Finan here:

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