Tuesday January 21, 2014

Amid reports of 11,000 Syria murders, members of British Muslim community prompt new approach to strengthen action

  • British Muslims engage directly with government as activists hand in petition at Number Ten Downing Street today.
  • Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening to address Islamic Relief event.
  • Stand up for Syria petition delivered ahead of tomorrow’s Geneva II peace talks (22 January 2014).
  • DFID sets out £2m grant to Islamic Relief to be spent on education, shelter and cash assistance

As today’s news reports the suspected murder, torture and mutilation of 11,000 detainees by the Syrian regime, British Muslim students and Islamic Relief and community representatives will personally deliver a UK-wide call for action signed by thousands to 10 Downing Street.

This will be followed by an address from Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening, in which she will set out a £2m grant for Islamic Relief’s work supporting Syrian refugees in Jordan with education, shelter and cash assistance.

“I think we could be seeing the start of a significant change in the way ordinary Muslims are engaging and campaigning with the government,” says Islamic Relief’s UK Director Jehangir Malik.

“Mosques, students and community members increasingly want to do more than just give money when they see suffering or injustice. They are now demanding political solutions and taking peaceful direct action. Islamic Relief’s Stand up for Syria petition reflects the compassion and passion of our supporters, and sends a strong message to the Prime Minister on the eve of the Geneva peace talks.”

Liverpool psychology student Raisah Chowdhury says: “My local community has worked hard to collect signatures for the petition. Doing this has made me feel that we are at last doing something proactive to help and that our concerns will be heard.” Nadia is one of four students to hand in today’s petition.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

“The UK has been a leading voice on the Syria conflict. We have pledged £600 million, our largest ever response to a crisis, and have been clear that others must step up with the funding and the political will required to get aid through. I welcome the chance to hear from Islamic Relief’s supporters and to look at how we can work together to reach even more people in need.”

Islamic Relief hopes the Prime Minister will:

Press for Peace: Give solid backing to a political solution in Geneva.

Act for Access:  End the political stalemate that has prevented aid agencies reaching some of those in greatest need within Syria.

Raise resources:  As Britain is one of the countries leading the way, we hope the Prime Minister will also urge other members of the international community to fulfil financial pledges. The United Nations has asked for £4bn over the coming year for Syria.

Keep borders open: Support neighbouring countries so they can continue to support refugees.

The education component of Islamic Relief’s programme to be funded by the DFID grant will give over 3,500 Syrian and Jordanian children based in Irbid, Jordan the chance to attend formal or non-formal education. Islamic Relief will work with local partners to implement the scheme.

ends

For more information contact Beverley Cohen on 07921 655272 (info@islamic-relief.org.za) or Tim Saunders on 0207 0230131 (T-Saunders@dfid.gov.uk).

 NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. Photographs of this press conference are available on request.
  2. The signatures were collected at the following mosques: Newcastle University Mosque, Makki Mosque Manchester, Manchester Islamic Society (Isoc) student prayer room, Khizra Mosque Cheetham Hill, Al Sunnah Mosque Manchester, Liverpool Rahma Mosque, York Mosque, Hull Mosque, Hull University Isoc, Muslim Youth Foundation Manchester, Masjid Tawheed Newcastle and East London Mosque and the London Muslim Centre.
  3. The six people handing in the petition are: Nadia Altairy (student from Liverpool), Raisah Chowdhury (student from Liverpool), Hamza Afzal (student from Manchester), Salman Farsi (London Muslim Centre),  Zakiyah Syeda (student from Leicester) and Lotifa Begum (Islamic Relief) .
  4. Islamic Relief has already reached 2.1 million people throughout this three-year crisis and is now focusing on winter issues for Syrian refugees. Millions of Syrians’ have been forced to flee their homes and have left all their possessions behind. They are now living in makeshift shelters with no money to pay for fuel or heating. Hundreds of thousands of families are sleeping in old, semi-destroyed buildings, schools with no roofs or freezing warehouses. Those fortunate enough to have made it to a refugee camp are grateful for their tents, but they provide little protection against the bitter cold.  Islamic Relief is also supporting Syrians in Jordan who live in basements, garages and farm buildings, and have supplied almost 200,000 people with food vouchers and paid for medical treatment for ill and injured people. Islamic Relief also support Syrians in neighbouring Lebanon.
  5. Islamic Relief is an international humanitarian organisation, founded in 1984, with its headquarters in Birmingham, UK. It works in over 30 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, responding to emergencies and supporting sustainable development with vulnerable communities. It also campaigns for change on issues such as debt, hunger, disaster protection and climate finance.
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