Danish NGOs join international call for peace in Syria

Ahead of Geneva II talks, international aid groups call for the Syrian Civil War to end

An international coalition of aid organisations have joined the call for the Bashar al-Assad regime and opposition groups in Syria to reach a settlement at the UN ‘Geneva II’ peace talks in Switzerland that get underway tomorrow.

The Syria INGO Regional Forum (SIRF) has called for all parties in the conflict to stop committing violence against civilians and allow communities caught up in the fighting to access the humanitarian assistance they need.

Danish aid organisations Folkekirkens Nødhjælp and Danish Refugee Council are among the 35 aid groups represented in SIRF.

“The crisis in Syria will soon be entering its fourth year and the plight of millions of Syrians must be seen as a catalyst to secure peace,” said Rob Drouen, the chairman of the SIRF board.

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“Every day that passes without a resolution to the conflict, more vulnerable people are pushed deeper into hunger and poverty. We must ensure that these talks result in action to bring an end to the suffering of millions of ordinary Syrians who have lived in misery far too long,” 

Representatives of the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition are expected to meet face-to-face on Friday at the Geneva II conference.

One of the leading opposition armies, The Syrian National Coalition, threatened to boycott the peace negotiations after key Assad ally Iran accepted an invitation to attend the conference. Iran's invitation, however, was rescinded yesterday by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Syrians will pay the price if peace talks fail
The war in Syria has claimed more than 100,000 lives. According to latest UN estimates, the number of people in need of humanitarian aid in Syria exceeds ten million. In recent weeks, Syrian refugees across the region have been hit hard by winter storms and plunging temperatures, making it even tougher for them to survive.

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SIRF board member Thierry Benlahsen warns that if the peace talks fail, it will put millions of lives at serious risk.

“Every day brings more death and more communities are torn apart as hopes for reconciliation and recovery fade,” he said. “Millions affected by worst humanitarian crisis in decades will continue paying a heavy price if the peace talks fail.”