Last week we recorded a dismal anniversary: 5 years of war in Syria. It is difficult to find anything to say that can lift the human spirit about a time during which we have witnessed scenes of barbarity that nobody should expect to see except perhaps in the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. These visions of Hell have escaped both his imagination and the borders of Syria and are now visible on the beaches of Lesbos, Lampedusa, border posts in the Balkans, and even 20 miles from our own shores in Calais.
We will each have our own image that crystalizes the conflict in our minds. Mine is of a barefoot young girl carrying her even younger brother. She is standing watching as the rest of the family struggle to clear the snow off their fragile shelter before it collapses under the weight. There are some brighter spots however. First, countless individuals and charities has risen to the demands of the crisis, raising money and delivering relief. Second, the world has not forgotten, and ‘donor fatigue’ has not set in: in February London hosted the 4th donor conference and raised $11 billion in a single day, more than such a conference has ever raised before.
This commitment to long term finance will enable us to ensure that there is no ‘lost generation’ and that all Syrian Refugee children can receive an education. Finally, our own leadership as the World’s second largest donor, has continued: at over £2 billion we have committed more to this endeavour than to any other humanitarian disaster ever. Hope springs eternal.