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Donors and humanitarian partners rally for the people of Syria

30 Mar 2015
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It has been four years: another somber, tragic milestone. On 31 March, in Kuwait, donors have a chance to make a difference in the lives of millions of women, children and men caught in this devastating crisis.

It has been four years: another somber, tragic milestone for the people of Syria. Despite tremendous efforts from aid groups to deliver life-saving support, the violence continues and the needs keep growing at a terrifying pace. On 31 March, in Kuwait, donors will have a chance to make a huge difference in the lives of millions of women, children and men caught in this devastating crisis.

"The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has launched a campaign called #WhatDoesItTake to express our profound frustration watching the Syrian crisis continue year after year without a political solution,” said UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos. “At the same time, we express solidarity with the people who suffer: humanitarian programmes can help millions of people with life-saving and life-sustaining aid in Syria and the region. But the crisis is outpacing the resources available for the response - the funding gap is growing.”

The 31 March Conference is the third pledging conference that the Amir and Government of Kuwait have hosted. The primary objective is, of course, to mobilize the necessary resources so the most basic needs can be addressed inside Syria, as well as in neighbouring countries. The Syrian crisis is today’s world’s largest refugee crisis.

At the conference, the UN will be using virtual reality (VR) to transport top decision-makers to a Syrian refugee camp at a major donor conference. Clouds Over Sidra is a VR film* designed to take viewers to Za’atari camp in Jordan - home to 84,000 Syrian refugees – where they follow a 12-year-old girl as she invites them into her new home, her makeshift classroom and to share a meal with her family.  The goal is to connect donors with Syrians affected by the war and inspire leaders to make bold commitments.

“By leveraging breakthrough technologies such as virtual reality, we can create solidarity with those who are normally excluded and overlooked, amplifying their voices and allowing them to explain their realities in their own words,” said Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN Millennium Campaign.

“I want to influence decision makers, first and foremost. I don't think all of them truly know what [Sidra’s life] is like and, in giving them this experience, I'm hopeful they will be moved to weigh greater the consequences of their decisions,” explained Gabo Arora, Senior Adviser to UN and Director of Clouds Over Sidra.

With the Syrian conflict having entered its fifth year, the use of new technologies and advocacy tools can mean the difference between empathy fatigue and actionable solidarity. 

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*To view Clouds Over Sidra, download the VRSE app and watch either on any smartphone with Google cardboard, or with the new Samsung Gear VR.