Danny Alexander MP backs Oxfam Inverness’s Syria campaign

Posted by Lisa MacReady Media Officer, Oxfam Scotland

1st Apr 2014

One of our Shop Campaign Champions David Smith proved just how much they can achieve when Highland MP Danny Alexander visited our outlet in Inverness last month (March 21) to back their campaign raising awareness of the suffering of millions of Syrians.

Since the conflict in Syria began over 100,000 people have been killed, 4 million people have been internally displaced and over 2.5 million have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees. As the crisis moves into its fourth year, Oxfam is calling for an improved response from donor countries to the UN's humanitarian appeal and a kick-start to the stalled Geneva peace process.

In Inverness, local people have been asked to write their thoughts on Oxfam's 'Seen and Heard' postcards to raise awareness and mark 3 years since the start of the conflict. Over 150 postcards have been distributed so far, during shop volunteer shifts and some street campaigning. As part of the campaign David invited Mr Alexander to show his support.

On his visit, Mr Alexander, who is also Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: "I am very proud of this local campaign to raise awareness of the suffering in Syria.

"The conflict has forced millions of Syrians from their homes; we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to help.

"In government, I will continue to support the peace talks currently taking place in Geneva and all peace efforts - only a political resolution between the Assad regime and Syrian opposition will provide a lasting solution.

"In the meantime the UK will continue do everything we can to alleviate the suffering. We have a long and proud tradition of providing refuge at times of conflict and crisis."

David ,who works in the Inverness shop, said: "Unlike natural disasters, where direct aid can lead to future improvements, the Syrian situation is manmade and therefore avoidable, yet no end is in sight.

"We hope Danny can use his influence in the corridors of power to keep this issue at the top of the agenda, and push the UN and world leaders to work together to find a peaceful resolution so that all the people affected can return home safely.

"As part of the UK Government, I would like to thank Danny for the work he and his coalition partners have done so far: delivering on the 0.7% GDP commitment for humanitarian aid, the decision to welcome 500 Syrian refugees to the UK, and for pushing to close tax loopholes in developing nations."

Oxfam welcomed the decision to accept refugees, though the move was long overdue and involves relatively small numbers of people.

Across Scotland, campaign groups are doing brilliantly at mobilising themselves to raise awareness of the suffering in Syria and ensuring the crisis is on the agenda of their local MP. Mr Alexander's visit and support is just one demonstration of how important community campaigning is, and what can be achieved.

UN figures show the number of Syrian refugees has grown fourfold in a year, from 588,000 at the end of 2012 to 2.4 million in late 2013.The wider international community must therefore provide greater economic support to allow countries that neighbour Syria to continue to assist new and existing refugee populations fleeing violence in Syria. All governments (including governments in Europe, North America, and the Middle East) should also accept the voluntary resettlement of Syrians to their countries, as part of a broader approach to assisting and protecting Syrians in need.

If David and his fellow staff in our Inverness shop have inspired you, and you want to get involved and speak to your local MP about Syria, please contact us for an information pack.

Blog post written by Lisa MacReady

Media Officer, Oxfam Scotland

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