Syria, Philippines — A tale of competing crises

Syrian women queue to register with the United Nations refugee agency in Arsal, Lebanon. Since Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November, there has been a drop in donations coming in for Syria. Photo by: M. Hofer / UNHCR

International organizations are hoping that donor contributions to their Syrian operations will pick up in the coming months, after experiencing a low in November in the wake of the Typhoon Haiyan response in the Philippines.

The optimism comes as the aid community prepares this week for the launch of its 2014 funding appeal for Syria, which is expected to be followed by another pledging conference next month in Kuwait.

“We are hopeful that funding will return to previous levels,” Caroline Hurford, World Food Program donor visibility coordinator, told Devex.

Donations have been fewer last month as per colleagues in charge of tracking donations to their Syrian appeal, although she did not cite any concrete figures. Hurford thinks “this could mean that governments have been directing their end-of-year funding to the Philippine emergency instead of to Syria.”

The official did not elaborate on how and if this shift in donor priority affected the U.N. agency’s operations, which is one of the largest in the region.

WFP spends an estimated $40 million a week for the Syrian crisis alone, but with a stretched budget, as the organization was forced to take a more targeted strategy that meant easing assistance to some refugees that it deemed not as vulnerable as others.

The United Nations, which spearheads the annual appeal, has yet to reveal how much it plans to request donors for 2014, although it’s possible this would be larger than the previous year as aid groups gear toward long-term strategies.

Aid groups initially appealed only for $1.5 billion in 2013, but by June they revised the appeal to $4.3 billion to deal with the worsening crisis in Syria.

To date, however, they have received only $2.76 billion or 63 percent of the total amount requested, which includes both the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan and the Syria Regional Refugee Response Plan.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.