Media obsession with ISIS takes focus away from Syria’s humanitarian crisis

76,000 civilians were killed in Syria during 2014, the worst year since its civil war began in 2011.

The Failing Syria report, recently published by a global coalition of British aid agencies and charities, accuses international powers – particularly the 15-member Security Council – of failing to deliver on pledges to protect innocent victims of the fighting.

Yasmine Nahlawi, from Manchester-based Syrian organization Rethink Rebuild, believed the rise of jihadist groups like ISIS and the ensuing media war has seemingly deflected attention away from the country’s ongoing crisis. “The obsession with ISIS by both the media and policy makers has not only taken the focus away from the growing humanitarian crisis, but has also distorted our perception of the conflict itself,” she said.

Several key resolutions passed last year called for an end to attacks on civilians, an increase in aid, for the UN to be allowed to operate in Syria without seeking permission from authorities in Damascus. However, the report indicates a failure to deliver on all of these promises:

  • People are not protected: 2014 was the deadliest year of the conflict so far.
  • Aid access has stagnated: 4.8 million people who require aid now reside in areas the UN deems ‘hard to reach’. This is a million more than in 2013.
  • Needs have increased: 5.6 million children require aid, a 31% increase from the previous year.
  • The humanitarian response in comparison with needs has declined drastically: in 2013, 71% of the necessarily funding required to aid civilians inside Syria, along with refugees in neighboring countries, were provided. In 2014, this had dropped to 57%.

[Mancunian Matters]

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