Syria looms large in Switzerland this week, and not only in Montreux, where negotiators began peace talks. In the Alpine village of Davos, heads of seven aid groups jointly appealed for humanitarian relief, and billionaire George Soros prepared to refocus his annual media dinner on the crisis in Syria.
The aid chiefs’ statement said, in part: “Millions of Syrians are enduring a second winter displaced from their homes. Half of the country is now dependent on humanitarian aid and millions of people still cannot access life-saving assistance. In some areas disease and starvation are rife. The current situation is unacceptable and defies the basic norms of a civilized world.”
Signing the statement were top executives of Amnesty International, CARE USA, Human Rights Watch, Mercy Corps, Oxfam International, Save the Children International, and World Vision.
On Monday Soros spokesman Michael Vachon e-mailed journalists to say that “George has decided to use this year’s dinner to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis resulting from the conflict in Syria.” He said Soros would be joined by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, among others. “While hopes for a political breakthrough at the Geneva II talks are limited, the panelists will discuss what more could be done to reduce the scale of the Syrian people’s suffering,” Vachon’s e-mail said.