The United Kingdom plays host to a major conference this week intended to raise money and political support for the Syrian humanitarian disaster. There are now over 4.6 million Syrian refugees who have fled abroad, mostly to surrounding countries and 7.6 million people displaced inside the country. In all the UN estimates that there by the end of 2016, there will be 18 million people in need of some sort of humanitarian relief.
That is going to cost a great deal of money — about $9 billion to be exact. And the way that money is raised is through appeals to donors–basically like a charity whose major contributors are governments around the world.
On the line today to discuss this conference and the major global challenge of mounting an appropriate humanitarian response to this overwhelming crisis is the UK’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Peter Wilson. We discuss some specific aspects of the humanitarian response to this now 5-year-old crisis, like providing access to education for displaced children and opportunities for employment for refugees abroad. We discuss the larger challenge of mounting a humanitarian response when so many of the belligerents are ignoring basic tenants of the laws of war, and we also discuss the current political peace process underway in Geneva.