Madaya, Syria, January 2016. Photo: WFP/Hussam Al Saleh.

An appeal to end the suffering in Syria

Three years ago, the leaders of UN humanitarian agencies issued an urgent appeal to those who could end the conflict in Syria. They called for every effort to save the Syrian people. “Enough”, they said, of the suffering and bloodshed.

That was three years ago.

Now, the war is approaching its sixth brutal year. The bloodshed continues. The suffering deepens.

So today, we — leaders of humanitarian organisations and UN agencies — appeal not only to governments but to each of you — citizens around the world — to add your voices in urging an end to the carnage. To urge that all parties reach agreement on a ceasefire and a path to peace.
More than ever before, the world needs to hear a collective public voice calling for an end to this outrage. Because this conflict and its consequences touch us all.

It touches those in Syria who have lost loved ones and livelihoods, who have been uprooted from their homes, or who live in desperation under siege. Today, some 13.5 million people inside Syria need humanitarian assistance. That is not simply a statistic. These are 13.5 million individual human beings whose lives and futures are in jeopardy.

It touches the families who, with few options for a better future, set out on perilous journeys to foreign lands in search of refuge. The war has seen 4.6 million people flee to neighbouring countries and beyond.

It touches a generation of children and young people who — deprived of education and traumatized by the horrors they have experienced — increasingly see their future shaped only by violence.

It touches those far beyond Syria who have seen the violent repercussions of the crisis reach the streets, offices and restaurants closer to their homes. 
And it touches all those around the world whose economic wellbeing is affected, in ways visible and invisible, by the conflict.

Those with the ability to stop the suffering can — and therefore should — take action now. Until there is a diplomatic solution to the fighting, such action should include:
- Unimpeded and sustained access for humanitarian organizations to bring immediate relief to all those in need inside Syria 
- Humanitarian pauses and unconditional, monitored ceasefires to allow food and other urgent assistance to be delivered to civilians, vaccinations and other health campaigns, and for children to return to school
- A cessation of attacks on civilian infrastructure — so that schools and hospitals and water supplies are kept safe
- Freedom of movement for all civilians and the immediate lifting of all sieges by all parties.

These are practical actions. There is no practical reason they could not be implemented if there is the will to do so.

In the name of our shared humanity… for the sake of the millions of innocents who have already suffered so much… and for the millions more whose lives and futures hang in the balance, we call for action now.





  • Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Chairperson, BRAC, Bangladesh
  • Zairulshahfuddin bin Zainal Abidin, Country Director, Islamic Relief Malaysia
  • Ryoko Akamatsu, Chairperson, Japan Committee for UNICEF
  • Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO, Plan International
  • Richard Allen, CEO, Mentor Initiative
  • Dr. Haytham Alhamwi, Director, Rethink Rebuild
  • Steen M. Andersen, Executive Director, Danish Committee for UNICEF
  • Barry Andrews, CEO, GOAL Ireland
  • Nancy A. Aossey, President and CEO, International Medical Corp
  • Bernt G. Apeland, Executive Director, Norwegian Committee for UNICEF
  • Dr. Mohamed Ashmawey, CEO, Islamic Relief Worldwide
  • Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General, CEO, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • Lina Sergie Attar, co-founder and CEO, Karam Foundation
  • Carmelo Angulo Barturen, President, Spanish Committee for UNICEF
  • Gudrun Berger, Executive Director, Austrian Committee for UNICEF
  • Tomaž Bergoč, Executive Director, Slovenian Foundation for UNICEF
  • David Bull, Executive Director, United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF
  • Marie-Pierre Caley, CEO, ACTED
  • Adriano Campolina, Chief Executive, Actionaid
  • CARE Netherlands
  • Tineke Ceelen, Director, Stichting Vluchteling, Netherlands
  • Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization
  • Jonny Cline, Executive Director, The Israeli Fund for UNICEF
  • Sarah Costa, Executive Director, Women’s Refugee Commission
  • Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme
  • Emese Danks, Executive Director, UNICEF Hungarian Committee Foundation
  • Maryanne Diamond, Chair, International Disability Alliance
  • Hisham Dirani, CEO, BINAA Organization for Development
    Edukans, Netherlands
  • Jan Egeland, Secretary-General, Norwegian Refugee Council
  • Patricia Erb, President and CEO, Save the Children Canada
  • Sanem Bilgin Erkurt, Executive Director, Turkish National Committee for UNICEF
  • Pierre Ferrari, President and CEO, Heifer International
  • Amy Fong, Chief Executive, Save the Children Hong Kong
  • Justin Forsyth, CEO, Save the Children UK
  • Michel Gabaudan, President, Refugees International
  • Meg Gardinier, Secretary General, ChildFund Alliance
  • Global Call to Action against Poverty
  • Mark Goldring, Chief Executive, Oxfam Great Britain
  • Pavla Gomba, Executive Director, Czech Committee for UNICEF
  • Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Madalena Grilo, Executive Director, Portuguese Committee for UNICEF
  • Noreen Gumbo, Head of Humanitarian Programmes, Trócaire
  • Handicap International, Belgium
  • Abdullah Hanoun, CEO, Syrian Community of the South West UK
  • Heather Hayden, Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children New Zealand
  • Dr. Dirk Hegmanns, Regional Director Turkey/Syria/Iraq, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe
  • Anne-Marie Helland, General Secretary, Norwegian Church Aid
  • Anne Hery, Director for Advocacy and Institutional Relations, Handicap International
  • International Organization for Migration, Netherlands
  • W. Douglas Jackson, President and CEO, PROJECT C.U.R.E.
  • Wolfgang Jamann, Secretary General, Care International
  • Kevin Jenkins, President and CEO, World Vision International
  • Bergsteinn Jónsson, Executive Director, Icelandic National Committee for UNICEF
  • Benoit Van Keirsbilck, Director, DEI-Belgique
  • Thomas G. Kemper, General Secretary, General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church
  • Neal Keny-Guyer, Chief Executive Officer, Mercy Corps
  • Kerk in Actie, Netherlands
  • Marja-Riitta Ketola, Executive Director, Finnish Committee for UNICEF
  • Peter Klansoe, Regional Director, Danish Refugee Council, Middle East North Africa region
  • Pim Kraan, Director, Save the Children Netherlands
  • Marek Krupiński, Executive Director, Polish National Committee for UNICEF
  • Dr. Hans Kuenzle, Chair, Swiss Committee for UNICEF
  • Anthony Lake, Executive Director, UNICEF
  • Jane Lau, Chief Executive, Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF
  • Lavinia Limón, President and CEO, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  • Jonas Keiding Lindholm, CEO Save the Children Denmark
  • Rosa G. Lizarde, Global Director, Feminist Task Force
  • Olivier Longue, CEO, Accion Contra el Hambre
  • John Lyon, President, World Hope International
  • Sébastien Lyon, Executive Director, French Committee for UNICEF
  • Dominic MacSorley, Chief Executive Officer, Concern Worldwide
  • Dirk Van Maele, Director, Plan België
  • Cécil Van Maelsaeke, Director, Tearfund, Belgium
  • Vivien Maidaborn, Executive Director, The New Zealand National Committee for UNICEF
  • Blanca Palau Mallol, President, Andorran Committee for UNICEF
  • Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO, Church World Service
  • Carolyn Miles, President and CEO, Save the Children USA
  • David Miliband, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee
  • Mr. Juraj Mišura, President, Slovak Committee for UNICEF
  • James Mitchum, Chief Executive Officer, Heart to Heart International
  • David Morley, President and CEO, Canadian UNICEF Committee
  • John Nduna, General Secretary, ACT Alliance
  • Stephen O’Brien, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
  • Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund
  • Ignacio Packer, Secretary-General, Terre des Hommes International Federation
  • People in Need
  • Dato Dr Ahmad Faizal Perdaus, President, Mercy Malaysia
  • Plan, Norway
  • Peter Power, Executive Director, UNICEF Ireland
  • Sarina Prabasi, Chief Executive Officer, WaterAid America
  • Chris Proulx, President and CEO, LINGOS, United States
  • Dr. Jihad Qaddour, President, Syria Relief and Development
  • Red Cross, Netherlands
  • Curtis N. Rhodes Jr., International Director, Questscope
  • Michel Roy, Secretary General, Caritas International
  • Paolo Rozera, Executive Director, Italian Committee for UNICEF
  • Dr. Tessie San Martin, President and CEO, Plan International USA
  • Christian Schneider, Executive Director, German Committee for UNICEF
  • Rev. Thomas H. Smolich, S.J. International Director, Jesuit Refugee Service
  • Janti Soeripto, Interim CEO, Save the Children, International
  • SOS Kinderdorpen, Netherlands
  • Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO, United States Fund for UNICEF
  • Marie Soueid, Policy Counsel, Center for Victims of Torture
  • John Stewart, President, Australian Committee for UNICEF Limited
  • Odd Swarting, Chair, Swedish Committee for UNICEF
  • William L. Swing, Director General, International Organization for Migration
  • Florence Syevuo, Global Call to Action against Poverty, Kenya
  • Daigo Takagi, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan
  • Tearfund, UK
  • Terre des Hommes International Federation
  • Constantine M. Triantafilou, Executive Director and CEO, International Orthodox Christian Charities
  • Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary, World Council of Churches
  • Monique van ‘t Hek, Director, Plan Nederland
  • Dr. William Vendley, Secretary General, Religions for Peace
  • Pierre Verbeeren, Director, Medecins du Monde, Belgium
  • Damien Vincent, Executive Director, Belgium Committee for UNICEF
  • Sandra Visscher, Executive Director, Luxembourg Committee for UNICEF
  • Vrouwen tegen Uitzetting, Netherlands
  • Tove Wang, CEO, Save the Children Norway
  • David A. Weiss, President and CEO, Global Communities
  • Kathrin Wieland, CEO, Save the Children Germany
  • Jan Bouke Wijbrandi, Executive Director, Dutch Committee for UNICEF
  • Nancy E. Wilson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Relief International
  • Carolyn Woo, President and CEO, Catholic Relief Services
  • Daniel Wordsworth, President and CEO, American Refugee Committee
  • Samuel A. Worthington, CEO, InterAction
  • Leila Zerrougui, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
  • Mohammad Zia-ur-Rehman, Chief Executive, AwazCDS and Pakistan Development Alliance