New funding for Syrian refugees ‘gives confidence’ to UNHCR

A camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan. Photo by: B. Sokol / UNHCR

With the new influx of Kuwaiti and Australian funds to support operations for Syrian refugees, the U.N. Refugee Agency can, for now, breathe a sigh of relief, its top official in Lebanon said on Tuesday.

Kuwait recently donated $110 million and Australia gave AU$6 million ($6.14 million) to fund UNHCR’s aid operations for Syrian refugees within the war-torn country as well as the neighboring nations of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq.

These new financial resources will keep refugee operations afloat for months to come, UNHCR Lebanese representative Ninette Kelley told Devex.

“It has given us a little more stability for at least another couple of months,” said Kelley. “This new contribution gives us confidence that we can continue our programs for the next few months.”

The money will be directed to responding to the most urgent needs of refugees, including the two life-saving interventions of shelter and healthcare.

UNHCR on Monday updated its Syria regional response plan, noting that its refugee operations are still running half-empty at $572 million. Its current need: $1.05 billion to assist the over 1.3 million displaced Syrians scattered throughout the region.

This amount will be more than compensated by the $1.5 billion pledge made by donors earlier this year, but delivery of aid has been sporadic at best.

In January, Kuwait pledged $300 million, almost double its latest donation, with other major donors like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia pledging the same amount individually.

UNHCR’s Lebanon office, currently operating at 48 percent of its required budget of $267 million, is regularly communicating with the Saudi government through its ambassador in Lebanon but support from Riyadh is being channeled through the NGOs the Saudis directly assist.

“That may well change,” said Kelley.

“If it doesn’t, then what we are working on are ways to ensure maximum coordination so (…) we have no duplication and are able to meet as many unmet needs as possible.”

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  • Johannamorden profile

    Johanna Morden

    Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covers the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business and the law.