Donor nations pledge US$2.4 billion at Kuwait meet for Syrians in need

News Stories, 15 January 2014

© UNHCR/A.McConnell
A Syrian refugee with three of her children in the tented settlement where they are living in eastern Lebanon. They face continuing needs like millions of others.

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait, January 15 (UNHCR) International donors meeting in Kuwait City on Wednesday pledged more than US$2.4 billion to help UNHCR and other aid organizations respond to the massive humanitarian needs generated by the crisis in Syria, said a joint press release issued at the end of the conference.

"These pledges prove that the people devastated by this conflict are not forgotten," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "It is also sending a strong signal to the neighbouring countries that we appreciate their generosity, and that they will not be left to shoulder the burden alone."

The press release said that 39 countries pledged to help alleviate the suffering of an estimated 9.3 million women, children and men in need in Syria and 2.3 million refugees who have sought protection in neighbouring countries a number that is expected to rise if the conflict continues unabated.

"This conflict has not only caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades, but it is also the biggest threat to global peace and security the world has seen in a long time," High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres was quoted as saying. "For the international community, responding to the needs we have presented here today is therefore more than a question of generosity. It is, in fact, a matter of enlightened self-interest."

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said Syria was the biggest humanitarian crisis the world faces today. "Every child, every woman, every man affected by this crisis deserves our continued support," added Amos, who is also the under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

The UN's strategies for Syria and neighbouring countries in 2014 aim at providing life-saving food supplies, water, shelter, medicines, health services, and supporting livelihoods. The appeals request $6.5 billion and the pledging conference hosted by Kuwait is a step towards reaching that target.

Ban Ki-moon thanked all participants, particularly the Emir of Kuwait, for hosting the second such gathering and for his generous contribution of US$500 million. He called on all concerned to do "even more to ensure that Syria and its people receive the support they need as we work for a more peaceful and stable future for the country and region."

Last year, UN appeals for the Syrian crisis amounted to $4.4 billion and were funded at almost 70 per cent at the end of the year. The press release said that with these funds, relief agencies increased delivery of aid from 900,000 to 3.8 million people inside Syria and more than 10 million people were given access to safe drinking water. Partners in the health sector treated 3.6 million people, and nearly 38,000 survivors of gender-based violence received psycho-social support. Thousands of Palestinian refugee families have also been reached with life-saving assistance.

During 2013, the number of registered Syrian refugees rose from 500,000 to more than 2.3 million. As refugees fled Syria at a rate of 127,000 people a month, the number of formal refugee camps doubled. More than 196,000 tents and 809,000 plastic tarpaulins equivalent to more than 21 square kilometres of shelter material were distributed to Syrians in camps and informal sites.

Remarks by António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria. Kuwait City, 15 January 2014

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Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

As world concern grows over the plight of hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians, including more than 200,000 refugees, UNHCR staff are working around the clock to provide vital assistance in neighbouring countries. At the political level, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres was due on Thursday (August 30) to address a closed UN Security Council session on Syria.

Large numbers have crossed into Lebanon to escape the violence in Syria. By the end of August, more than 53,000 Syrians across Lebanon had registered or received appointments to be registered. UNHCR's operations for Syrian refugees in Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley resumed on August 28 after being briefly suspended due to insecurity.

Many of the refugees are staying with host families in some of the poorest areas of Lebanon or in public buildings, including schools. This is a concern as the school year starts soon. UNHCR is urgently looking for alternative shelter. The majority of the people looking for safety in Lebanon are from Homs, Aleppo and Daraa and more than half are aged under 18. As the conflict in Syria continues, the situation of the displaced Syrians in Lebanon remains precarious.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Turkish Camps Provide Shelter to 90,000 Syrian Refugees

By mid-September, more than 200,000 Syrian refugees had crossed the border into Turkey. UNHCR estimates that half of them are children, and many have seen their homes destroyed in the conflict before fleeing to the border and safety.

The Turkish authorities have responded by building well-organized refugee camps along southern Turkey's border with Syria. These have assisted 120,000 refugees since the crisis conflict erupted in Syria. There are currently 12 camps hosting 90,000 refugees, while four more are under construction. The government has spent approximately US$300 million to date, and it continues to manage the camps and provide food and medical services.

The UN refugee agency has provided the Turkish government with tents, blankets and kitchen sets for distribution to the refugees. UNHCR also provides advice and guidelines, while staff from the organization monitor voluntary repatriation of refugees.

Most of the refugees crossing into Turkey come from areas of northern Syria, including the city of Aleppo. Some initially stayed in schools or other public buildings, but they have since been moved into the camps, where families live in tents or container homes and all basic services are available.

Turkish Camps Provide Shelter to 90,000 Syrian Refugees

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The violence inside Syria continues to drive people from their homes, with some seeking shelter elsewhere in their country and others risking the crossing into neighbouring countries. The United Nations estimates that up to 4 million people are in need of help, including some 2 million believed to be internally displaced.

The UN refugee agency has 350 staff working inside Syria. Despite the insecurity, they continue to distribute vital assistance in the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Al Hassakeh and Homs. Thanks to their work and dedication, more than 350,000 people have received non-food items such as blankets, kitchen sets and mattresses. These are essential items for people who often flee their homes with no more than the clothes on their backs. Cash assistance has been given to more than 10,600 vulnerable Syrian families.

Displaced inside Syria: UNHCR and its Dedicated Staff help the Needy

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