UNHCR warns of dramatic consequences if funding gaps for Syrian refugees continue

News Stories, 3 July 2014

© UNHCR/J.Kohler
A Syrian refugee mother and child rest after crossing the border into Jordan.

GENEVA, July 3 (UNHCR) Faced with continued violence in Syria and a growing refugee influx into the region, UNHCR and its partners are warning of dire consequences if funding gaps are not closed and mounting refugee needs are not met.

In a revised 2014 Syria Regional Response Plan (RRP6) to be formally presented in Geneva tomorrow, UNHCR and partners call on donors to fund a $3.74 billion programme across Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt to save lives, prevent harm, protect the vulnerable and strengthen the capacity and resilience of refugees and host communities as the crisis deepens into its fourth year.

"Failing to provide enough humanitarian support for Syrian refugees by the end of 2014 could result in dramatic consequences for refugees and the stability of the entire region, including a serious security threat to Lebanon," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

"We have a situation of heightened volatility in the region, a spillover of the conflict into Iraq and continued outflows of refugees into neighbouring countries grappling with very complex security and humanitarian issues," he added.

So far in 2014, donors have contributed some US$1.1 billion to the Syria Regional Response Plan, allowing UNHCR and its partners to meet many of the food, health, education and protection needs of refugees. However, this amount represents only 30 per cent of the revised requirements against the new estimate of 3.6 million Syrian refugees in the region by the end of 2014.

Thanking donors for their generous contributions so far, Guterres warned of some of the hardships and risks facing refugees if the rate of funding does not increase quickly enough to meet mounting needs. These may include reduced food rations, limited health services and contagious disease.

In addition, more than 2.4 million people will need extra support to prepare for winter in the coming months, while an estimated 860,000 refugees currently living outside of camps in sub-standard shelter also need assistance. Already, government and communal services are under strain, threatening social cohesion and stability.

"The international community simply cannot afford to let this growing and increasingly protracted population of refugees fall through the cracks. Nor can we fail to support the countries who generously host them," Guterres said.

At present there are 2.9 million Syrian refugees registered in the region, with numbers growing at a rate of 100,000 people every month.

See also the revised 2014 Syria Regional Response Plan (RRP6)

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Advocacy

Advocacy is a key element in UNHCR activities to protect people of concern.

2008 Nansen Refugee Award

The UN refugee agency has named the British coordinator of a UN-run mine clearance programme in southern Lebanon and his civilian staff, including almost 1,000 Lebanese mine clearers, as the winners of the 2008 Nansen Refugee Award.

Christopher Clark, a former officer with the British armed forces, became manager of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre-South Lebanon (UNMACC-SL) n 2003. His teams have detected and destroyed tons of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and tens of thousands of mines. This includes almost 145,000 submunitions (bomblets from cluster-bombs) found in southern Lebanon since the five-week war of mid-2006.

Their work helped enable the return home of almost 1 million Lebanese uprooted by the conflict. But there has been a cost – 13 mine clearers have been killed, while a further 38 have suffered cluster-bomb injuries since 2006. Southern Lebanon is once more thriving with life and industry, while the process of reconstruction continues apace thanks, in large part, to the work of the 2008 Nansen Award winners.

2008 Nansen Refugee Award

Beyond the Border

In 2010, the Turkish border with Greece became the main entry point for people attempting by irregular methods to reach member states of the European Union, with over 132,000 arrivals. While some entered as migrants with the simple wish of finding a better life, a significant number fled violence or persecution in countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq and Somalia. The journey is perilous, with many reports of drowning when people board flimsy vessels and try to cross the Mediterranean Sea or the River Evros on the border between Greece and Turkey. The many deficiencies in the Greek asylum system are exacerbated by the pressure of tens of thousands of people awaiting asylum hearings. Reception facilities for new arrivals, including asylum-seekers, are woefully inadequate. Last year, UNHCR visited a number of overcrowded facilities where children, men and women were detained in cramped rooms with insufficient facilities. UNHCR is working with the Greek government to improve its asylum system and has called upon other European states to offer support.

Beyond the Border

Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid

UNHCR started distributing emergency relief aid in devastated southern Lebanese villages in the second half of August. Items such as tents, plastic sheeting and blankets are being distributed to the most vulnerable. UNHCR supplies are being taken from stockpiles in Beirut, Sidon and Tyre and continue to arrive in Lebanon by air, sea and road.

Although 90 percent of the displaced returned within days of the August 14 ceasefire, many Lebanese have been unable to move back into their homes and have been staying with family or in shelters, while a few thousand have remained in Syria.

Since the crisis began in mid-July, UNHCR has moved 1,553 tons of supplies into Syria and Lebanon for the victims of the fighting. That has included nearly 15,000 tents, 154,510 blankets, 53,633 mattresses and 13,474 kitchen sets. The refugee agency has imported five trucks and 15 more are en route.

Posted on 29 August 2006

Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid

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