UN calls for more Syria aid

Thursday, September 27, 2012
UN and its humanitarian aid partners in a meeting to discuss
way to combat issue of exodus from Syria [Photo: UNifeed]
Geneva: In an effort to help hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees the United Nations (UN) and its humanitarian aid partners on Thursday (27 September) called on donors for US$ 295 million in extra funding for operations in the country. 

The revised appeal, covering the humanitarian needs of forecast 700,000 refugees in neighbouring countries by the end of the year, ups the amount sought from US$193.2 million to US$487.9 million. To date, US$141.5 million has been received from donors for the inter-agency Regional Response Plan for Syrian Refugees.

There are 294,000 Syrian refugees registered or awaiting registration in neighbouring countries, compared to 41,500 Syrians in March, when UNHCR and its partners issued a first appeal for US$84.1 million. This sevenfold increase in the number of refugees has brought about a surge in the humanitarian response and a vastly expanded plan of action to respond to the needs of Syrian refugees as well as future arrivals.

Panos Moumtzis, UNHCR's regional coordinator for Syrian Refugees told journalists in Geneva today that the combined appeal of fifty two agencies was funded at the level of 26 percent.

The continued violence in Syria has prompted humanitarian agencies to prepare for a further increase in the numbers of refugees, taking into account the impact on refugee-hosting countries and communities. Whereas the March appeal projected an estimated 100,000 Syrians becoming refugees by the end of this year (a number that was passed in July), this appeal estimates up to 700,000 Syrian refugees in neighboring countries by December 31.

Moumtzis stressed that the funding was urgently needed to be able to respond and to continue supporting the Syrian refugees.Women and children make up 75 per cent of the refugee population. Education and health care are both priorities in the plan.

UNICEF's Deputy Director Dermot Carty said that over a half of the refugee population were under 18 and a fifth are under five, and these are always the most vulnerable.

He also said that at the moment, the UNICEF component of the Appeal amounted to some $79 million of which just 20% had been received, adding that, "we have a shortfall of some $62 million which we're hoping to be able to raise those funds through this Appeal process."

The revised Regional Response Plan includes 42 national and international NGOs, who were represented at the launch of the appeal by Michael Penrose, humanitarian director of Save the Children International.

Humanitarian agencies have scaled-up assistance in response to the increase in numbers and needs of refugees, with an increasing sense of urgency as winter approaches, with half the Syrian refugee population living in refugee camps, the majority in tents.
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