Authors call on governments to resettle more Syrian refugees

Authors call on governments to resettle more Syrian refugees

Authors such as Victoria Hislop, Caitlin Moran and Mark Haddon have called on wealthy governments to resettle more Syrian refugees as Waterstones hits its £1m Buy Books for Syria fundraising target.

The chain bookseller launched its Buy Books for Syria campaign to raise £1m through selling specific stickered books in September, reaching the half way mark in November. The money, which is going towards Oxfam’s Syria Crisis Appeal, will help to provide clean water for hundreds of thousands of people in Syria, as well as support the many refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Europe who have been forced to flee their homes.

As the fundraising achievement was announced, authors Caitlin Moran, Mark Haddon, Victoria Hislop and Tracy Chevalier have also called on wealthy governments to do more to resettle refugees from the crisis and ramp up their aid responses.

A spokesperson for Oxfam said that analysis conducted by the charity shows that wealthy countries have given barely half the aid money needed to help people in and around Syria and that many countries are failing to do their fair share to resettle refugees. “While the UK has given a generous share of financial aid, it has resettled less than a quarter of the refugees it should,” Oxfam said.

Moran has called the findings “shameful”.

“As we approach the fifth anniversary of the war on Syria - that rich countries have given barely half the aid money needed to help,” she said. “I'm proud to have joined the literary world in raising money for Oxfam’s work there - but it’s increasingly clear that this is a growing disaster that needs international action in forming a proper, legal and humanitarian plan to find the refugees permanent places of safety, and that it is in the interests of the whole world to act with decency, rigour, imagination and speed, before an already awful humanitarian crisis destabilises entire regions, and threatens the entire notion of peaceful coexistence."

Haddon said that more money, and a warmer welcome to refugees, will go a long way to helping Syrians across Europe. “I've been to Jordan with Oxfam and seen the work it is doing and all I can say is that it's essential, it's efficient and it's working. By buying books for Syria and hitting our £1m target, we can now do so much more."

Hislop said she was pleased to have been a part of the campaign to raise £1m for Syrian refugees, calling the achievement  “fantastic” and a “testament to the hard work of all involved”.

Chevalier, meanwhile, said she was also pleased but added there was “still much to do, as the conflict in Syria shows no signs of ending”.

“Let's hope governments note that they need to contribute much more to help," she added.

James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, said that everybody at the company was “proud” to have contributed “so meaningfully” to Oxfam’s work with Syrian refugees, “whilst recognising the on-going needs are both urgent and substantial”. “Oxfam, and all those working to alleviate the crisis, require committed support,” he said.

He has previously told The Bookseller that “some, perhaps most” of the sales would substitute “sales upon which otherwise we would be earning money” in the run-up to Christmas but added that the company was “very fortunate to have an owner [Russian businessman Alexander Mamut] and board who have put this to one side and supported the initiative”.

The Buys Book For Syria campaign has now wrapped up after the £1m target was reached.

Oxfam UK c.e.o Mark Goldring said the £1m raised would have a “huge impact” on Oxfam’s continuing work to help the Syrian people.

“With every penny going to Oxfam's Syria Crisis Appeal, Buy Books for Syria proves that even a small purchase can make an enormous difference to people's lives,” he said. “Now we are calling on wealthy governments to do their fair share."

Other authors who supported the campaign included Mary Beard, Alan Bennett, Michael Bond, William Boyd, Lee Child, Julia Donaldson, Neil Gaiman, Matt Haig, Robert Harris, Max Hastings, Khaled Hosseini, Marian Keyes, Lynda La Plante, Andrea Levy, Hilary Mantel, Peter May, Alexander McCall Smith, Michael Morpurgo, Jojo Moyes, Patrick Ness, David Nicholls, Philip Pullman, Ian Rankin, Salman Rushdie, Ali Smith, Tom Rob Smith, David Walliams and Jacqueline Wilson.

Meanwhile UK publishers which supported the intiative included Atlantic Books, Bloomsbury, Canongate, Egmont, Faber, Granta, Hachette, HarperCollins, Oneworld, Pan Macmillan, Penguin Random House UK, Profile, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Titan, Usborne and Walker.