Syria: Can Aid Meet The Challenge?



Edward Stourton reports from Jordan on the international aid response to the Syrian refugee crisis and how far politics is compromising humanitarian action.

The number of Syrian refugees in Jordan is expected to triple from a little under 400,000 to 1.2 million by the end of this year. Of these, it is projected that 400,000 will be living in camps and the other two thirds in host communities.

The Syrian emergency poses a profound challenge to aid agencies operating in the region, and humanitarian principles such as transparency, impartiality and accountability are being put to the test. Fundraising is also difficult and agencies on the ground in Lebanon and Jordan talk of the situation reaching a tipping point, as already thin resources are being stretched to breaking point by the refugee influx, exacerbating existing tensions.

Edward Stourton follows Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) and the United Nations Refugee Council as they respond to the crisis for an insider's view of their debates and decisions.

The programme begins at an Islamic Relief food distribution point at the Prince Hassan football stadium in Irbid, where Edward meets some of the refugee families who have come seeking help.

In Zataari camp near the Syrian border, he talks to residents of the camp about their experiences. In Zataari, now home to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees, tensions are rising over the lack of aid and inhumane living conditions. In Amman, Edward asks Andrew Harper, the UN's head of its Syria response, whether this is a reflection of the UN's failure to adequately deal with a refugee crisis of this scale.

Producer: Eve Streeter

A Blakeway production for BBC Radio 4.

Edward Stourton reports from Jordan on the aid response to the Syrian refugee crisis.