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International and local/diaspora actors in the Syria response

Working paper

Written by Eva Svoboda, Sara Pantuliano

Working paper

​As the brutal conflict in Syria continues with little sign of abating, the international humanitarian system has found itself stretched to the limit. 

Now more than ever, diaspora and local aid organisations are on frontlines of the aid response, managing to provide aid and protection programmes to war-torn parts of the country where even international aid agencies are struggling to reach.

With a keen local understanding of the conflict, the people and the area, diaspora and local aid organisations are uniquely qualified to know what is most needed, in which areas, and how to gain access to those in need. But still they struggle for recognition amongst the traditional humanitarian NGOs and donors and face a lack of money, and inflexible systems which make it hard for donors to fund them directly – despite having access to beleaguered populations. 

This paper examines how diaspora and local organisations have responded to the crisis in Syria, how they evolved and the challenges that they face - and how international aid organisations and disapora and local groups can better work together in a new aid model.

Eva Svoboda and Sara Pantuliano