UNHCR appeals for extraordinary funds for Syria victims

News Stories, 13 March 2013

© UNHCR/J.Kohler
UN Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres (left) meets with Jordan's Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour in Amman earlier today.

AMMAN, Jordan, March 13 (UNHCR) UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on Wednesday urged donor nations to approve extraordinary funds to help Syrian refugees and host countries, warning of dire consequences if funding levels do not rise.

"This is not just any crisis. It requires a special mechanism of support," Guterres told journalists in Amman, following meetings with Jordan's Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

Appealing to the governments and parliaments of donor countries to approve extraordinary funds, he stressed that "there is no way this can be funded by normal humanitarian aid budgets." Guterres said that if significant new funding was not forthcoming, "the consequences could be devastating for the Syrian people and for regional stability."

The High Commissioner, in a separate meeting on Wednesday with Jordan's King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein, reiterated UNHCR's commitment to supporting Jordan as it struggles to cope with the growing number of Syrian civilians streaming across the border and seeking shelter.

Jordan is now host to more than 450,000 Syrian refugees. The majority live in urban areas, but about 100,000 are staying in the Za'atri refugee camp, which Guterres was due to visit later Wednesday. Further camps are planned and UNHCR is working with the government on contingencies in case the situation gets dramatically worse.

UNHCR announced a week ago that the number of Syrian refugees in the region had passed the 1 million mark, but the High Commissioner has warned that at the current inflow rate it could hit the 3 million mark by the end of the year. The Jordanian government believes that hundreds of thousands of Syrians in the border governorate of Dera'a could flee to Jordan if the conflict continues at the current intensity or escalates.

Guterres said that although the growing refugee population was placing great social and economic strain on the country, Jordan had been a "pillar of stability" in the region and had a remarkable record of helping refugees prior to the current crisis, including Palestinians and Iraqis.

He said it was essential that the Jordanian government and its people are supported. "Their sacrifice and generosity is something the international community should recognize and support. This cannot be dealt with in a business-as-usual attitude. "

The High Commissioner also supported the Jordanian government's call for significantly more humanitarian support to the displaced and needy inside Syria. "It is critical that humanitarians can reach people in need wherever they are, whoever they are and whomever they support," he stressed.

More than 2 million Syrians are believed to have been forcibly displaced within Syria since the crisis erupted two years ago and some 4 million have been affected by it. UNHCR works through the Syrian Red Cross to reach out and try to help the vulnerable.

By Melissa Fleming in Amman, Jordan




UNHCR country pages

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

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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