Editor's note: This editorial was written by Olivier Longué, Executive Director of Action Against Hunger, Spain. It was originally published in the media outlet El Pais in Spain, but has been edited slightly and translated from Spanish to English.
Today, as we mark the sixth anniversary of the war in Syria, there is a growing risk that the world is becoming desensitized to the crisis. The signs of neglect are in plain view: in 2016, the international community funded barely half of the United Nations humanitarian appeal for the Syrian crisis. The level of funding is not keeping up with scale of humanitarian needs. Aid is being reduced precisely when needs are increasing. After six years of violence and horror, international donors are beginning to show signs of fatigue. And so is the public. Only the wrenching images of victims of the siege of Aleppo—or of the biting winter cold endured by Syrian refugees seeking asylum in Europe—seem to have the power to move us lately. It seems that the world could be moving toward accepting Syria as a “lost cause,” beyond our ability to resolve.
At the Helsinki Conference on Supporting Syrians and the Region in late January, the humanitarian community agreed that this conflict has, in effect, wiped out the efforts of 40 years of human development. But it must also be acknowledged that the efforts of humanitarian organizations like Action Against Hunger have alleviated suffering. Since the onset of the crisis, 5 million people have received clean drinking water in Syria because of humanitarian action; refugees have received food aid, water, and basic sanitation infrastructure in camps or informal settlements, and more than 3 million children have been able to continue receiving an education through international aid.
The impact of war involves more than lives lost. For those who survive, the damage of six years of violence is progressive. Inside and outside Syria—let's not forget that 90 percent of the five million people who have