Syria crisis: UK charities start appeal

Syrian internally displaced people walk in the Atme camp, along the Turkish border
Image caption Two million people have been forced to move to other districts in Syria, while another million have left the country

British aid agencies have started an appeal to help the people affected by the two-year conflict in Syria.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has said there is a huge need for help as the humanitarian situation inside the country continues to deteriorate.

More than three million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes as the fighting spreads.

One official said more than £150m was needed to care for them, as donations to the appeal opened.

Two million people have been forced to move to other districts in Syria, while another million have left the country, becoming refugees. Many are without shelter, food, blankets, clean water and medical care.

'Urgent need'

It has been possible to donate to the Syria appeal since early on Wednesday morning, but the formal launch will take place on Thursday when all the main broadcasters, including the BBC, will take part.

The DEC said the majority of its members were already supporting work inside Syria but most could not talk in any detail about their activities without putting their work and workers at risk.

Its members include the British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International UK, Oxfam and Save the Children.

The British Red Cross is supporting the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) which is helping two million people per month. SARC said it was working to meet the needs of vulnerable people all over Syria, including government-controlled areas and across front lines.

Other DEC agencies are supporting work that has reached a total of 920,000 people in areas, including Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Hama, and areas across northern Syria. Islamic Relief, Save the Children and Cafod have all confirmed they are supporting the delivery of aid inside Syria.

DEC member agencies are also providing help to some of the refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries.

Chief executive Saleh Saeed said: "Despite the efforts of our member agencies and others there are huge and urgent un-met needs, both in Syria and the surrounding countries.

"In Syria, the greatest challenge to meeting those needs remains the barriers to delivering aid which are faced by impartial humanitarian agencies such as our members.

"The lack of funds are also a critical constraint though - both for work in Syria and the surrounding countries."

Peaceful protests

The number of refugees leaving the country has increased from 1,000 a day at the beginning of the year to more than 8,000 a day.

The DEC said the total number in need of assistance in Syria and the surrounding countries was more than five million - one million refugees, two million internally-displaced people and two million still living at home in Syria but requiring assistance.

Last week saw the second anniversary of the Syrian uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, which initially began as a wave of peaceful protests but which is now often described as a civil war.

An estimated 70,000 people have been killed and more than one million people have fled Syria since the uprising began.

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