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Syria diaspora aid efforts hailed

Syrians living in the UK are saving thousands of lives by getting aid into war-torn districts that international charities are struggling to reach, a think tank has claimed.

The Oversees Development Institute (ODI), based in London, said armed groups in Syria are more willing to negotiate access with local and diaspora groups than large aid agencies.

While the groups have been successful in delivering medical supplies, food, water and support programmes to orphans in their homeland, they are struggling to get access to international funding four years on the from the start of the conflict.

The ODI report says that a new aid model is needed to find better ways for international aid agencies and diaspora groups to work together, so both can benefit in helping more people.

Eva Svoboda, researcher from the ODI's humanitarian policy group and author of the report, said: "Although it may be difficult to trust new and 'non-traditional' humanitarian providers, it is important for international aid organisations and donors to take diaspora groups seriously and form equal partnerships with those that are genuinely seeking to provide aid to war-torn areas.

"It is not a question of whether international or diaspora and local organisations are better.

"Both have a role to play ideally working together to provide better services for those in need. Local organisations are the face of the new humanitarian aid model, one that is sorely needed to best serve those in need."

Hand In Hand For Syria, which works inside the conflict zone but is based in London, has seen its local sources of funding dry up, the report said.

The think tank fears high-profile cases of jihadis who have travelled to Syria via Turkey posing as humanitarians have tainted the reputation of diaspora charities and contributed to the fall in local funding.

The report, International and Local/Diaspora Actors in the Syria Response, said there are now 12.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria.

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