UNHCR and partners warn in Syria report of growing poverty, refugee needs
A report released today on the Syria refugee response finds that, while significant progress has been made in providing assistance, the number of Syrian refugees living in poverty continues to rise in host countries in the region and providing access to basic services remains a critical challenge.
The mid-year report of the 2016 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), released by UNHCR and more than 200 international and national actors, looks at progress so far this year in helping refugees and host communities in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt.
With the Syria conflict into its sixth year, host governments and communities continue to bear a heavy political, economic, social and security burden. Public institutions are under extreme pressure to deliver basic services to an increasingly large number of vulnerable people, testing the limits of existing infrastructure.
The report finds that, with the generous support of donors, 3RP partners have in 2016 delivered cash assistance to 102,853 households, food to 2,035,767 individuals, 1,090,795 primary health care consultations, shelter assistance to 25,148 households and other forms of emergency assistance to refugees and host populations. Support was provided to 5,603 people to find employment.
A key response of the 3RP is to invest in national services and systems in the host countries, which are under increased strain, and partners report that almost 200 education and health facilities were supported.
There was also promising news in the livelihoods sector, with work permits issued by Jordan to Syrians and a new regulation allowing Syrian refugee access to employment in Turkey. These positive initiatives, supported at February’s London Conference on Syria, need to be matched by the international community with continuing generous funding and responsibility sharing.
Despite this progress, the report warns of growing poverty. It says that in Lebanon, the average debt held by refugee households has increased over the first quarter of 2016 and the number of people living below the poverty line has risen to 70 per cent compared to 50 per cent in 2014. In Jordan, 90 per cent of registered Syrian refugees in urban areas are below the national poverty line, while over 67 per cent of families are living in debt. In Egypt, some 62,000 refugees are living in poverty.
More funding will help 3RP programming and operations to mitigate further impoverishment of these refugees and host communities and to address the protection risks associated with increasing poverty, including negative coping mechanisms, and the essential needs of the vulnerable.
The report notes that 30 per cent, or US$1.38 billion, of the US$4.55 billion sought by UN agencies, inter-governmental organizations and NGOs under the 3RP, had been funded as of May 31. UNHCR and its partners are calling for more funding and swifter disbursement of pledged funds, including the record pledges made at the London Conference.
With UNHCR and its 3RP partners already looking toward planning for 2017 and beyond, continued international solidarity is needed so that agencies across all sectors and countries can better plan interventions, allocate resources and provide consistent and predictable assistance to beneficiaries, and longer-term support to host communities.
The 3RP mid-year report draws on data as of May 31 from the coordinated reporting and information management mechanisms. To read the report, go to: http://www.3rpsyriacrisis.org or http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php
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