UN requests $1.5B to address Syrians’ rising humanitarian needs

Syrian children keep themselves warm with a blanket at a refugee camp in Jordan. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees urge donors to help 1.1 million Syrians who may need to leave the country. Photo by: B. Sokol / UNHCR

By mid-2013, up to a million Syrian refugees would need humanitarian assistance. That’s according to recent estimates of the United Nations’ refugee agency, and the basis of a new $1.5 billion funding request.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, along with its 55 partners, launched the appeal Dec. 19. The bulk of the request, or $1 billion, will fund the Syria Regional Response Plan, which aims to provide lifesaving assistance to Syrians who have fled and are expected to cross over to Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt.

Almost half of the appeal will be used to set up refugee camps in Jordan, a UNHCR press officer told Devex. In anticipation of the 300,000 Syrians who are expected to cross over to the country, the Jordanian government has said it prefers these refugees be housed in shelters as soon as they arrive. Even without funding woes, the necessities of a sizable refugee population make this a particularly challenging task for the agency.

To keep duplication of efforts to a minimum, chosen specialized agencies will head working groups in their areas of expertise, such as water, sanitation and health, among others, and task assignments are coordinated so that each organization will do what they do best. The refugee agency intends to maximize impact and efficiency through solid teamwork with its partners.

The remaining $519.6 million will be for the 2013 Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan, which aims to provide urgent assistance to 4 million Syrians inside the country, half of whom have been displaced by the 22-monthlong conflict. Among the main needs covered in the humanitarian response plan are food assistance, shelter, water and sanitation, nutrition and emergency medical services, cash assistance, basic services, and nonfood items, such as mattresses and bedding, kitchen and hygiene sets, and clothes.

The appeal’s message is “loud and clear,” the press officer said. The new budget request is very critical for the agency’s operations, especially in the first two months of 2013. To date, only 70 percent of the $487 million appeal issued in September has been funded.

“We hope to get positive indications from governments and we have a huge fundraising campaign for private sector and individuals. This is the Christmas period, we hope people will remember Syrians and their desperate situations and the fact that Syrians for decades have also welcomed refugees without hesitation andtodaythey need that kind of support,” the press officer said.

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About the author

  • Adrienne Valdez

    Adrienne Valdez is a former staff writer for Devex, covering breaking international development news. Before joining Devex, Adrienne worked as a news correspondent for a public-sector modernization publication.

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