‘No end to the fighting in sight’

A Syrian refugee at a camp in Turkey. Photo by: A. Branthwaite / UNHCR

The United Nations’ refugee agency has once again revised its response plan and aid appeal for Syria. The new request: an additional $295 million to support programs for the rising number of Syrians forced to flee their country.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and its partner aid groups released on Thursday (Sept. 24) a new Regional Response Plan for Syrian Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland. The revised appeal covers the needs of more than 700,000 refugees expected to have fled to Syria’s neighboring countries by the end of 2012. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati, for one, has told the U.N. General Assembly that his country alone cannot provide for the needs of Syrian refugees.

The response plan details ongoing and proposed activities by UNHCR and its 42 local and international partners in the following sectors: protection, food and nutrition, education, shelter, and water, sanitation and hygiene.

The agency released the first version of the plan, which was drafted in consultation with the governments of Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon, in March, with a funding request of $84.1 million. This was revised upward in June to $193.2 million — again, prompted by an increase in the number of refugees.

Earlier this month, the United Nations also issued a new appeal and response plan for people inside Syria, particularly in the hardest-hit areas of Homs, Hama, Damascus, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and Idlib.

These plans are likely to be revised anew as there are still no signs the 18-month conflict in Syria is nearing its end. This much was recognized by European aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, who hosted a meeting with Syria’s neighbor countries and aid groups on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

“With no end to the fighting in sight, with serious food and medicine shortages and with winter approaching, it was high time to discuss at the highest possible level what the needs are and how we can bring help to people who need it,” the commissioner said.

Australia, however, has put forward a plan to ensure hospitals and medical services in Syria could continue unabated. The country has also announced an additional $4 million in aid to help deliver medical care in the conflict-torn state.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department will be holding an ad hoc ministerial meeting on Syria on Thursday (Sept. 28). The meeting will tackle three issues: support for the political opposition, humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees and IDPs, and increasing pressure on the Syrian government to allow transition “to go forward.”

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.