UNHCR warns of funding shortfall for Syrian refugees

Briefing Notes, 20 April 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 20 April 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

One month after the United Nations and its humanitarian partners issued an appeal for US$84 million to help Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, less than twenty per cent of the funds have been given. Of the 34 organisations that have appealed for funds under the Syria Regional Response Plan, only eight have received funding to date totaling US$15.6 million dollars.

Agencies that provide lifesaving support need the funds to be able to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs. According to UNHCR and its partners in the region, both the refugees and the countries hosting them are beginning to show signs of strain. Many refugees arrived with little or no financial resources, so are mostly reliant on the efforts of the host community and organizations dedicated to supporting them.

Over 61,000 Syrian refugees are being assisted in the region (Lebanon: 21,000, Jordan: 13,751, Turkey: 23,971 and Iraq: 2,376). Of this number, over 45,000 have been registered by the authorities and UNHCR. They have all maintained an open borders policy for Syrian refugees.

Despite the lack of funding, the UN and its partners continue to implement essential programmes to assist the refugees and support their host communities.

Highlights of the programmes led by UNHCR include the airlifting of tents and blankets to Turkey, a cash assistance programme in Jordan, outreach programmes to identify the most vulnerable in Jordan and Lebanon and rehabilitation of homes and community centres in Jordan and Lebanon.

Children are particularly badly affected by the crisis, with many showing signs of trauma and grave distress. In Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon the governments are actively encouraging the enrollment of children in schools. UNICEF is supporting education programmes, psychosocial support and child friendly spaces in Jordan and Lebanon.

Food and basic household items are a key concern for many refugees who have little or no financial resources. UNHCR has provided food and household items to over 30,000 Syrians in Jordan and Lebanon. WFP is providing food assistance to refugees in Jordan and has reached an agreement to start operations in Lebanon.

Numerous NGOs, including Caritas, the Jordan Health Aid Society and the International Medical Corps are supporting healthcare for Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. UNICEF is providing immunization coverage and care. NGOs are also playing an important role in community outreach.

The Syria Regional Response Plan outlines the response needs for Syrian refugees who have fled the country since March 2011. The plan is an inter-agency framework led by UNHCR and the result of a coordinated effort between seven UN agencies, 27 national and international NGOs and host governments.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Geneva: Melissa Fleming on mobile +41 79 557 91 22
  • In Geneva: Sybella Wilkes on mobile +41 79 557 91 38
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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

Muazzez Ersoy

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UNHCR and its partners estimate that out of a total population of 26 million, some 1.9 million Iraqis are currently displaced internally and more than 2 million others have fled to nearby countries. While many people were displaced before 2003, increasing numbers of Iraqis are now fleeing escalating sectarian, ethnic and general violence. Since January 2006, UNHCR estimates that more than 800,000 Iraqis have been uprooted and that 40,000 to 50,000 continue to flee their homes every month. UNHCR anticipates there will be approximately 2.3 million internally displaced people within Iraq by the end of 2007. The refugee agency and its partners have provided emergency assistance, shelter and legal aid to displaced Iraqis where security has allowed.

In January 2007, UNHCR launched an initial appeal for US$60 million to fund its Iraq programme. Despite security issues for humanitarian workers inside the country, UNHCR and partners hope to continue helping up to 250,000 of the most vulnerable internally displaced Iraqis and their host communities

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