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European Union donates €63 million to UNHCR for Syria operations

News Stories, 18 December 2013

© UNHCR/A.McConnell
With winter affecting parts of Syria, UNHCR has been distributing aid to keep the displaced warm and dry. European Union funds are important for ensuring winter supplies.

BRUSSELS, Belgium, December 18 (UNHCR) The European Union on Wednesday donated €63 million to the UN refugee agency for its operations for Syrians displaced by the war in their country. It was the largest single contribution that UNHCR has received from the EU.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres welcomed the donation from one of UNHCR's most important partners. "We must do whatever we can to help those who have lost everything through this conflict," he said before attending a signing ceremony in Brussels with EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Kristalina Georgieva.

"One of UNHCR's priorities is to bolster support in the neighbouring countries during the winter, where the vast majority of Syrian refugees live and where needs are greater than ever," Guterres added, referring to the bitter weather that has descended on parts of Syria and neighbouring countries.

The EU assistance will allow UNHCR to provide vital support to those most impacted by the largest humanitarian crisis the world is facing. There are currently more than 2.3 million refugees and an estimated 6.5 million displaced within Syria.

Georgieva stressed how important the humanitarian work being carried out for Syrians was. "Our collaboration with the major UN agencies is vital to the overall relief assistance being provided by Europe for this terrible crisis. Working together has enabled us to reach many of the millions of men, women and children who are suffering as a result of this tragic conflict," she stressed.

The EU's contribution will support the work of UNHCR and its partners in providing humanitarian assistance to people displaced in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

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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

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