UNHCR receives €63 million for Syrian crisis from EU

Press Releases, 18 December 2013

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres today thanked the European Union for a contribution of €63 million for displaced Syrians by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO). This is the largest single contribution UNHCR has received from the European Union. This assistance will allow UNHCR to provide vital support to those most impacted by the largest humanitarian crisis the world is facing. Today's announcement comes two days after the UN and partners launched an appeal for US$6.5 billion for Syria, the largest amount requested for a single humanitarian emergency.

"We must do whatever we can to help those who have lost everything through this conflict. One of UNHCR's priorities is to bolster support in the neighbouring countries during the winter, where the vast majority of Syrian refugees live and where needs are greater than ever. UNHCR welcomes the support from the European Union," said High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Kristalina Georgieva said "Our collaboration with the major UN agencies is vital to the overall relief assistance being provided by Europe for this terrible crisis. Working together has enabled us to reach many of the millions of men, women and children who are suffering as a result of this tragic conflict."

Over 2.3 million people have fled Syria since the beginning of the conflict in March 2011, in one of the largest refugee exoduses in recent history, while 6.5 million people are displaced inside Syria. The EU's contribution will support the work of UNHCR and its partners in providing humanitarian assistance to people displaced in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

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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

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

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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