19 August 2019

New Zealand is Watching

Twelve Kiwi CEO's Band Together As The Humanitarian Crisis In Syria Escalates

Unprecedented collaboration by 12 CEOs as humanitarian disaster in Syria worsens


As the Syria crisis escalates, the heads of 12 New Zealand aid organisations have joined forces to call on the government to act on one of the biggest humanitarian disasters of this generation.

Together they are calling for the government to resume financial support for humanitarian aid, and to speak out against human rights violations currently taking place inside Syria.

“Aid agencies on the ground in Syria don’t have enough funding to do all the lifesaving work they want to do, to support the most vulnerable refugees. We acknowledge the generosity to date from our Government. Now we’re asking our leaders to get behind the public of New Zealand who have shown huge generosity, and recommit support for victims of the Syrian conflict, so that work can continue,” says Josie Pagani, director of the Council for International Development.”

“The government must also strengthen its condemnation of human rights violations occurring in Syria, in particular the deliberate targeting of civilians in Idlib. Schools and hospitals have been intentionally targeted, as have marketplaces and villages. Our elected leaders must continue to call on all parties to adhere to international law,” says Mark Mitchell, chair of the Council for International Development’s Humanitarian Network.

Journalists Mike McRoberts from Newshub and Miriama Kamo from TVNZ have added their voices to a video from the CEOs calling on the government to act.

“Having reported on the plight of Syrian refugees both inside and out of Syria I’ve seen first-hand the desperate need of the hundreds of thousands of families caught in the conflict’s shocking violence. says McRoberts.

“I think it’s fantastic that New Zealand NGOs and aid agencies have joined together in a unified effort and I support their calls on the government.”

Kamo agrees, saying “When it doesn’t happen in our own backyard, it’s easy to think it’s not our problem. But, at this point in human history, we know more than ever that unity of purpose is vital for solving the crises that we face. The leaders of NGOs and aid agencies are uniting in a common purpose and they have invited us all to say ‘we are watching’ and ‘you are not forgotten’.  It’s powerful and it’s purposeful and it’s the right thing to join in.”

New Zealanders who want to add their own voices to the call can sign the petition by going to NZiswatching.org.

After more than eight years of conflict in Syria millions of families have been forced to flee the fighting. Alarmingly the past few months has seen increasing violence and human rights violations in Idlib, North West Syria. More than 400,000 people from their homes and left millions of children, women and men in need of humanitarian assistance. The extent of the suffering is unlike anything we have seen this century.

Mitchell says that suffering can be overcome: “New Zealand is watching – Kiwis care about the Syrian people, as generous donations over the years have proved. Our government has the chance to do the right thing, to help change the lives of millions of Syrian people, to remind them they are not forgotten,”

For more information or to organise interviews, contact gabriel.thomas@worldvision.org.nz 021360098. 

Sign the petition: 

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/petitions/document/PET_90974/petition-of-josie-pagani-for-the-council-for-international

The CEOs involved in the video are:

Josie Pagani – Council for International Development

Grant Bayldon – World Vision

Ian McInnes - Tearfund

Rachel Le Mesurier – Oxfam

Vivien Maidaborn - UNICEF

Heidi Coetzee – Save The Children

Paul Brown – ChildFund

Julianne Hickey – Caritas

Stuart Batty – Rotary NZ World Community Service

Pauline McKay – Christian World Service

Denison Grellmann - ADRA

Murray Sheard - CBM

1.What is #NZisWatching about? 

#NZisWatching is about standing with innocent victims of the Syrian conflict. It’s about sending a message to the world: The people of Syria are NOT forgotten; New Zealand will NOT stand idly by as girls and boys, men and women, are deliberately targeted in this conflict; New Zealand will NOT neglect the most vulnerable refugees who have fled to Syria’s neighbouring countries, and we WILL continue to provide the support and protection they desperately need.

 2.How many people have been affected by the Syrian conflict?

The Syrian conflict has caused the greatest refugee crisis of our time. Over 5.6 million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries, while inside Syria over 11 million people are in need.

 3.Does ChildFund work in Syria?

ChildFund is supporting the Swiss children’s aid organization Terre des Hommes to provide respite to families on the run. Now on the ground in Serbia and Macedonia, TDH offers families support and protection at all hours of the day or night, greeting them with warm clothes and blankets, personal hygiene supplies, maps, reliable information and help in connecting with families and friends. For mothers, there’s a private place to feed their children; for children, a safe place to play and, perhaps, feel like children again. Distressed families can also receive psychological support as well as health assessments and referrals.

 4.How can I help?

Those interested in helping are urged to sign the petition at www.nziswatching.org. For those interested in donating to help children in Syria, call 0800 808 822. 

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