UNHCR and partners seek US$1 billion as Syrian refugee exodus grows

News Stories, 19 December 2012

© UNHCR/B.Sokol
Young Syrian refugees look out from the door of their family's tent at a camp in Turkey. The number of refugees is expected to continue growing in the region.

GENEVA, December 19 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency and its partners today appealed to international donors for US$1 billion to support refugees fleeing Syria to Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt.

The new Regional Response Plan for Syrian Refugees sets out the funding needs of 55 humanitarian organizations in providing vital protection and assistance for civilians fleeing Syria during the first six months of 2013.

"This massive humanitarian crisis requires urgent support from governments, businesses and private individuals," said Panos Moumtzis, UNHCR's regional coordinator for Syrian refugees. "Unless these funds come quickly, we will not be able to fully respond to the life-saving needs of civilians who flee Syria every hour of the day many in a truly desperate condition."

The US$1 billion appeal is based on planning estimates that up to 1 million Syrian refugees will need help during the first half of 2013.

Also on Wednesday, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria Radhouane Nouicer announced a US$519.6 million appeal for inside Syria. The funds will be used to provide aid to a 4 million people inside Syria, half of whom have been displaced from their homes. He described the three main dangers faced by Syrians as being insecurity and mass violence, the cold and lack of basic services and items. "All three are killers", he told donors.

Some 525,000 Syrians have to date either registered as refugees in the countries immediately surrounding Syria or are being assisted. This is a seven-fold increase since May, when just 70,000 Syrians had registered for help. Many more Syrians are in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, but have not yet registered.

"We are constantly shocked by the horrific stories refugees tell us," said Moumtzis. "Their lives are in turmoil. They have lost their homes and family members. By the time they reach the borders, they are exhausted, traumatized and with little or no resources to rely on."

The 2013 plan aims at redoubling efforts to protect vulnerable refugees, with a big emphasis on community outreach to those living in cities and towns. Much of this work is conducted by the 43 national and international NGOs included in the appeal.

Specific activities focusing on children, women, older people and survivors of sexual- and gender-based violence are planned for.

"Children make up roughly half of the refugees crowded into camps and host communities across five countries, and their numbers rise inexorably," said UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Maria Calivis. "The evolving situation on the ground has outpaced our efforts to raise the necessary funds. Today, a further response to the desperate plight of Syrian children is once more urgently required."

Since July, Syrian refugees have fled the conflict for neighbouring countries at a rate of 2,000-3,000 a day. The 2013 plan prioritizes support for new arrivals, assistance to hosting communities and plans for construction of new camps.

As the crisis continues to deteriorate inside Syria, there is significant attention given to emergency preparedness in the plan, with regional warehouses being restocked with tents, blankets and basic household items.

The updated regional response plan for the first time includes Egypt, where more than 10,400 Syrians have been registered to date. According to government figures, tens of thousands more are in the country. Another new development in the plan is support for the UN Relief and Works Agency activities for Palestinians who have fled Syria for Lebanon.

This appeal is the fourth update of the Syria Regional Response Plan, first launched last March. The 2012 Regional Response Plan for Syrian refugees received 70 per cent of the US$487 million appealed for.

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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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