Who's giving to the Syrian people?

By Liana Barcia 18 September 2015

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron meets Syrian families at a refugee camp in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. The U.K. is one of the biggest donors to the Syrian refugee crisis. Photo by: Georgina Coupe / Number 10 / CC BY-NC-ND

With no end in sight, Syria’s complicated and devastating civil war has already displaced more than 11 million people — many of whom have taken refuge in neighboring countries, but with many more remaining inside the country’s borders. Even before the spotlight shone on Europe’s refugee arrivals, about 4 million Syrians fleeing persecution and violence had already made their way to nearby Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

While many refugees still live in camps, the hope and the goal is for full integration into their host countries. However, these nations — many of which already face their own development challenges — have been the largest providers of resources for the response, and the influx of refugees has exacerbated previous vulnerabilities, overstretching limited capacities and basic services, such as health, education, housing, and water and sanitation.

While European refugee policy and humanitarian operations are now under a magnifying glass, the international community has long been providing humanitarian aid for Syrians caught in the middle of the civil war. This year, however, the United Nations also rolled out the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan — or 3RP — a funding appeal which, in addition to addressing humanitarian needs of refugees, also aims to provide the resources needed to build the resilience and capacity of impacted neighboring host countries in the region.

Want to help Syrian refugees? Start working with the EU's Madad Fund

The international community has been providing financial assistance to displaced Syrians since the country’s civil war broke out in 2011. Devex takes a look at which countries have contributed the most this year, and where their funds have been going.

The 3RP appeal for 2015 has reached $5.5 billion — $1 billion in host government requirements and $4.5 billion in agency requirements for both nongovernmental organizations and U.N. agencies — but so far, only $1.8 billion has been received. When added to the $944.2 million raised for the $2.9 billion response plan within Syria and $872.9 million more of unlisted aid, total humanitarian funding for Syrians in the region is at $3.67 billion — less than 45 percent of the requested $8.4 billion.

So which nations are contributing the most to humanitarian operations for the Syrian people, both at home and in neighboring countries? How much have they disbursed? Devex takes a look at the region’s funding picture, based on figures provided by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Top donors to the Syrian refugee crisis. View larger version.

United States ($1.1 billion)

The United States has contributed $1.1 billion so far for Syrian refugees in 2015, or just slightly less than one-third of the total humanitarian funding. Out of this amount, majority — $574.4 million — went into the 3RP. An additional $273.9 million went into the Syria Response Plan while even more — $299.1 million — went into projects not listed in either appeal.

Large projects funded by the United States include an $86.5 million food assistance program within Syria, coursed through various NGOs, and a $70 million multisector operation — also within the country — covering agriculture and food security, economic recovery, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, logistics, protection, shelter and settlements, and humanitarian coordination.

United Kingdom ($474.9 million)

The United Kingdom is the second-largest donor country — and the largest in Europe — disbursing $474.9 million for Syria’s internally displaced people and refugees this year. Among the top six donors, only the United Kingdom contributed its largest chunk of aid ($194.8 million) to the SRP. The country’s contributions to the regional appeal are at $177.8 million while an additional $102.3 million remains unlisted.

Like the United States, the United Kingdom poured most of its funding for those affected by the unrest in Syria into food assistance activities, including food security and agricultural support programs, but health and water and sanitation have also emerged as priorities. Many of the United Kingdom’s highest-funded activities have been of the cross-border nature.

Kuwait ($304.6 million)

In terms of country contributions to displaced Syrians, Syria’s oil-rich neighbor Kuwait has been playing a leading role in the region with $304.6 million — putting it at third place globally. Most of Kuwait’s aid ($165.7 million) has been raised for the 3RP, while $95.6 million went into the in-country response and $43.3 million was raised outside of the appeals. In addition to these contributions, Kuwait has $219.4 million in outstanding pledges.

Kuwait’s largest disbursements went to cross-border activities between Syria and neighboring countries Lebanon and Jordan — which host 1.2 million and 629,245 Syrian refugees, respectively.

Germany ($225.2 million)

Coming in at fourth place is Germany, which has been at the forefront of the reception of refugees in Europe. Out of its $225.5 million in total aid for the Syrians, a whopping $150.6 million has passed through the 3RP. Only $11 million was allocated to activities and projects under the SRP, but $63.7 million more was disbursed outside of the appeals.

Like Kuwait, Germany has poured much of its funds into cross-border activities between Syria and Lebanon and Jordan, with the largest disbursements being channeled through UNICEF. German contributions also include cash assistance to Palestine refugees inside Syria and within the region, channeled through the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Canada ($141.6 million)

The fifth-largest donor to Syrian humanitarian efforts is Canada, having contributed $141.6 million so far this year. From this total, $93.3 million has been allocated for regional response efforts while $26.5 million went into humanitarian operations within Syria. Unlisted financial assistance is at $21.8 million.

Aside from cross-border operations covering parts of Jordan and Syria, Canada’s funds went to food assistance programs for people left inside Syria. The country also spent on education, alternative learning and skills development, protection, psychosocial support and cash grants.

Japan ($137.5 million)

In terms of top humanitarian donors to Syrians, sixth place goes to Japan, which poured $137.5 million into resilience and refugee operations in the Near East. Asia’s leading contributor allocated $91 million for the 3RP, while $24.3 million went to the SRP and $22.2 million was disbursed outside of both appeals.

Aside from stabilization support to host communities, Japan has prioritized health, education, livelihood restoration and water and sanitation for internally displaced Syrians and regional refugees.

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About the author

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Liana Barcia

Liana is a Manila-based reporter at Devex focusing on education, development finance and public-private partnerships and contributing a wide range of content featured in the Development Insider, Money Matters and Doing Good newsletters. She draws from her experience in business reporting and advertising to generate coverage that is engaging, insightful and relevant to the Devex community.


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