Syria’s main arms suppliers among least generous aid donors, says Oxfam

The Guardian reports: Countries in the forefront of arming either side in Syria’s civil war have been among the least generous when it comes to dealing with the resulting humanitarian disaster, according to a new Oxfam report.

The aid agency and advocacy group found that Russia and Qatar had committed just 3% of their fair share to the United Nations humanitarian appeal, measuring their contributions as a proportion of national income and wealth.

Russia has long been the Syrian government’s main arms supplier, providing nearly half its imports in 2006-10, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

On Wednesday, Moscow launched a diplomatic assault in defence of the Syrian regime, claiming to have evidence implicating Syrian rebels in the chemical attack in Damascus on 21 August, in which hundreds were killed. Russia’s move once again pits it against the UK, France and the United States, which blamed the attack squarely on Bashar Al Assad.

Meanwhile, Qatar is widely reported to be the main source of finance for weapons for the rebels, particularly jihadist groups.

France, the most vociferous supporter of the opposition in western Europe, has given less than half its fair share, the Oxfam report found.

At the other end of the scale, Kuwait has contributed more than four times its share, while Britain has given more than one and a half times what the agency estimated a proportionate contribution to the UN fund. Saudi Arabia has given nearly twice its share.

Overall, under-payers far outnumber over-payers, especially among rich countries. The US, despite being the biggest contributor in absolute terms, has given 63% of its fair share in relation to national income, Oxfam found. Japan has paid 17% of its fair share and South Korea 2%.

As a result, the £3bn Syrian humanitarian fund launched by the UN in June this year is so far only 44% funded, with days to go before a high-level donor meeting on the sidelines of the UN general assembly next week. [Continue reading…]

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