This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is increasingly troubled at a looming severe funding shortfall for our work with our partners in support of the millions of Syrian refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). Some US$270 million is urgently needed to ensure that the most vulnerable among Syria’s refugees and internally displaced do not go without vital protection and assistance this year. These funds include critical preparations for the oncoming winter.
Currently, US$196.5 million would allow UNHCR to continue essential programmes until the end of the year in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. This includes cash assistance, protection, health and shelter activities. Overall, there are more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees registered across the region – 2.6 million of whom are children. And the needs of families are great. Without support people resort to desperate measures such as going without healthcare or education.
As well as funding for the refugees UNHCR is also calling for US$73 million to help address the most acute and pressing needs of displaced people inside Syria. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced since the start of the year, and many now rely on humanitarian support to meet basic daily needs. Additional funding would allow UNHCR to rapidly scale up activities across key sectors such as protection, shelter, and the provision of basic aid, helping up to 1.8 million people.
Part of the urgent funding requirements both inside Syria and in neighbouring countries will go towards preparing UNHCR’s winterization response, to ensure that vulnerable families receive adequate support well before winter arrives. We estimate that 1.3 million vulnerable refugees are in dire need of essential winter support – the costs of which amount to US$96 million.
US$44 million of the US$270 million total is needed to stop cash assistance activities ceasing in November. This would be especially devastating for refugee families in Lebanon and Jordan, where some 68 and 85 per cent respectively live below the poverty line. Funding would enable over 456,000 refugees to continue to pay rent, meet daily needs and maintain access to essential services such as healthcare.
Another US$36 million is required to address the impact of rising health care costs. Without funding there is risk that refugee families will not receive even basic medical services such as child immunizations. Funding at this level would ensure health care support for some 35,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees in the region, particularly in Jordan and Lebanon.
Urgent funding is also needed to keep the most essential protection activities going across the region including support for civil documentation, child protection activities, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention and response, and legal assistance. Other priorities include improvement of conditions in sub-standard accommodation as well as support for livelihoods, self-reliance and resilience among refugees.
Inside Syria, US$73 million is required for core relief items, shelter, preparations for winter, livelihoods, protection, and health. There, the cost of urgent winter support alone to some 1.35 million vulnerable internally displaced people (IDPs) and returnees amounts to US$41.2 million.
Legal protection, prevention of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV), emergency shelter, basic aid, livelihoods, vocational training and health services are also among priority activities inside Syria that desperately need additional funds.
UNHCR’s 2018 total financial requirements for protection and assistance for the Syria situation amounts to US$1.97 billion. As of September, only US$610 million has been received – which is 31 per cent of the requirement.
The US$270 million of urgently needed funds represents only the most pressing and critical needs of Syrian refugees and IDPs within UNHCR’s overall unfunded requirements in 2018. UNHCR is grateful to all state and private sector donors for their support thus far which enabled us to manage an uninterrupted humanitarian response to date. Quick disbursement of existing pledges and commitments as well as additional funding is essential for managing the humanitarian response of this scale in a flexible and timely manner. It is imperative to avoid more suffering and more uncertainty for a population that has endured so much.
Link to the video: “UNHCR calls for urgent Syria funding”
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