UNHCR calls afresh on Syria's warring parties to allow aid delivery

News Stories, 26 March 2013

© UNHCR
This year, UNHCR has delivered relief items to more than 437,000 Syrians in some of the most affected provinces, including Aleppo, Al-Hassakeh, Raqqah, Damascus, Dara'a, Deir Ezzor, Hama and Idlib.

GENEVA, March 26 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Tuesday called again on all parties to ensure safe passage for convoys delivering humanitarian aid to civilians inside Syria. "In the current security environment, several convoys have had to be cancelled or delayed. This is depriving many Syrians of vitally needed help," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.

According to the UN's latest estimates, at least 3.6 million people are internally displaced in Syria. UNHCR is working with government and non-government parties to see that aid gets through, however assistance is currently only reaching a fraction of those in need.

"Despite the security difficulties, UNHCR has been working to scale up its operations," Edwards said. "Since the start of 2013 we have had aid deliveries to Deir Ezzor, Dara'a, Raqqah, Idlib, and Hama. Last year we added to our existing presences in Damascus, Aleppo and Al-Hassakeh with new facilities in Al-Nabek and Homs. This has brought us closer to many of the centres of concentration of displaced and affected populations."

Edwards added that UNHCR's goal was to deliver relief items to at least 1 million people by June 2013. As of Wednesday last week, the agency had delivered relief items to more than 437,000 people in some of the most affected provinces, including Aleppo, Al-Hassakeh, Raqqah, Damascus, Dara'a, Deir Ezzor, Hama and Idlib.

The aid includes bedding, shelter, household items and clothes. The items were delivered directly by UNHCR or by local NGOs and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC). Four convoys, one organized jointly with other UN agencies, have taken place to the north since the beginning of the year.

The most recent delivery went from Damascus to Tal Abiyad in Raqqah province. Seven trucks loaded with 130 tons of aid arrived on March 18. The trucks were organized by the SARC. The World Food Programme also sent four trucks with 5,000 food baskets.

Financial assistance remains an important priority in Syria. Last year, UNHCR gave financial support to 14,607 families in Damascus, Al-Hassakeh and Al-Nabek. This year 6,400 families have received financial assistance in Damascus. Plans to expand the programme to Homs have been delayed because of insecurity, but UNHCR hopes to begin the programme in the coming weeks.

The working arrangement is that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) coordinates relief efforts inside Syria. UNHCR leads three sectors: distribution of household items; shelter support; and community services (including home visits, running community centres and manning hotlines). The agency participates in three other groups: education, health, and water and sanitation.

The 70,000 refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia still living in Syria are facing the same hardship and dangers as their Syrian hosts. UNHCR remains committed to assisting and protecting this vulnerable population, many of whom have limited coping mechanisms, particularly as they lose access to jobs and are displaced due to the conflict.

Edwards said that UNHCR had received reports of threats against refugees and abductions. An Afghan refugee was killed when a mortar shell hit his home.

"Refugee children are particularly vulnerable, some suffering psychosocial issues with many having dropped out of school," he said, adding that assistance to refugees included financial support and help with access to health care. "Resettlement for refugees . . . is a top priority for those that cannot consider going home," he said, citing people from Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan as well as Palestinians.

At least 76,000 Iraqi nationals have returned home since the beginning of the conflict in Syria despite the fact that, for many, the conditions back home are far from ideal. Upon arrival in Iraq and registration with the authorities, UNHCR provides returnees with household items and one-time cash assistance of US$400 per family and US$200 for single people. By the end of January, 3,116 households (18,815 people) had benefitted from this assistance since last November.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

UNHCR aims to help 25,000 refugee children go to school in Syria by providing financial assistance to families and donating school uniforms and supplies.

There are some 1.4 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, most having fled the extreme sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in 2006.

Many Iraqi refugee parents regard education as a top priority, equal in importance to security. While in Iraq, violence and displacement made it difficult for refugee children to attend school with any regularity and many fell behind. Although education is free in Syria, fees associated with uniforms, supplies and transportation make attending school impossible. And far too many refugee children have to work to support their families instead of attending school.

To encourage poor Iraqi families to register their children, UNHCR plans to provide financial assistance to at least 25,000 school-age children, and to provide uniforms, books and school supplies to Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR. The agency will also advise refugees of their right to send their children to school, and will support NGO programmes for working children.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

Iraqi Refugees in Syria: 2,000 New Arrivals Daily

The UN refugee agency is increasingly alarmed over the continuing violence in Iraq and distressed about the lack of an international humanitarian response to deal with the massive numbers of people being displaced. After an assessment mission in November last year, UNHCR officials warned that the agency was facing an even larger humanitarian crisis than it had prepared for in 2002-03. But UNHCR and other organisations are sorely lacking in funds to cope with the growing numbers of displaced.

In an effort to fill the massive gap in funding, UNHCR in January 2007 launched a US$60 million appeal to cover its protection and assistance programmes for Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey, as well as non Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people within strife torn Iraq.

The longer the Iraq conflict goes on, the more difficult it will become for the hundreds of thousands of displaced and the communities that are trying to help them – both inside and outside Iraq. Because the burden on host communities and governments in the region is enormous, it is essential that the international community support humanitarian efforts.

Posted on 5 February 2007

Iraqi Refugees in Syria: 2,000 New Arrivals Daily

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Iraqi refugees in Syria

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie returned to the Syrian capital Damascus on 2 October, 2009 to meet Iraqi refugees two years after her last visit. The award-winning American actress, accompanied by her partner Brad Pitt, took the opportunity to urge the international community not to forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees who remain in exile despite a relative improvement in the security situation in their homeland. Jolie said most Iraqi refugees cannot return to Iraq in view of the severe trauma they experienced there, the uncertainty linked to the coming Iraqi elections, the security issues and the lack of basic services. They will need continued support from the international community, she said. The Goodwill Ambassador visited the homes of two vulnerable Iraqi families in the Jaramana district of southern Damascus. She was particularly moved during a meeting with a woman from a religious minority who told Jolie how she was physically abused and her son tortured after being abducted earlier this year in Iraq and held for days. They decided to flee to Syria, which has been a generous host to refugees.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Iraqi refugees in Syria

Turkey: Faysal's Flight from Kobane , SyriaPlay video

Turkey: Faysal's Flight from Kobane , Syria

More than 170,000 people have fled from the town of Kobane in northern Syria to escape a fierce offensive by ISIL militants. Faysal managed to escape to Turkey before the fighting in the cauldron of conflict intensified, but he still has some family left in the besieged town on the border.
Refugees Continue Flowing into TurkeyPlay video

Refugees Continue Flowing into Turkey

Turkey has opened borders point for Syrian Kurdish civilians fleeing clashes between ISIS militants and Kurdish forces. More than 138,000 have crossed over since Friday and more are expected.
UNHCR: Syrian Refugee numbers top three millionPlay video

UNHCR: Syrian Refugee numbers top three million

The number of refugees in Syria's intensifying crisis passes 3 million people, amid reports of horrifying conditions inside the country. Iman and her family were displaced four times inside Syria before finally seeking refuge in Lebanon.