UNHCR warns of funding shortfall for operations to help Syrian refugees

News Stories, 20 April 2012

© UNHCR/F.Juez
Members of a Syrian family register as refugees in northern Lebanon.

GENEVA, April 20 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday said the United Nations and its partners are implementing essential programmes to assist Syrian refugees and their host communities despite the slow response to a funding appeal last month for US$84 million to help Syrians in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

"Less than 20 per cent of the funds have been given," Melissa Fleming, chief UNHCR spokesperson, told journalists in Geneva. "Of the 34 organizations that have appealed for funds under the Syria Regional Response Plan, only eight have received funding to date totalling US$15.6 million dollars," she added.

Agencies that provide life-saving 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," Fleming said.

More than 61,000 Syrian refugees are being assisted in the region, including 21,000 in Lebanon, 13,751 in Jordan, 23,971 in Turkey and 2,376 in Iraq. 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.

Fleming said assistance programmes were being implemented despite the funding shortage. "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," Fleming said.

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 enrolment of children in schools. The UN Children's Fund (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 more than 30,000 Syrians in Jordan and Lebanon. World Food Programme (WFP) is providing food to refugees in Jordan and has reached an agreement to start operations in Lebanon.

Numerous aid organizations, including Caritas, the Jordan Health Aid Society and the International Medical Corps, are supporting health care for Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. UNICEF is providing immunization coverage and care. Non-governmental organizations 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.