UN Asks Partners For $1.5-Billion In Aid For Syrian Refugees

 @MayaErgas
on December 19 2012 12:31 PM
Syrian Refugees Dec 2012 2
Syrian refugees react as U.N. Secretary-General Ban arrives to visit a U.N.-run school in Al Zaatri refugee camp. Reuters

The U.N. announced on Tuesday that it is asking its partners for $1.5 billion over the first six months of 2013 to aid Syrian refugees that continue to pour out of the country. 

The U.N. refugee agency estimates that approximately 700,000 Syrians will have fled into Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq by year's end. Already an estimated 525,000 have left, and another two to three thousand continue to cross the Jordan border every night. Another two million people still in Syria are classified as internally displaced, and the U.N. said that the number who were in need of aid and assistance has quadrupled from one to four million between March and December of 2012. 

At least 20,000 people have been killed in the conflict since March 2011.

“This massive humanitarian crisis requires urgent support from governments, businesses and private individuals,” said UNHCR’s Regional Coordinator for Syrian Refugees, Panos Moumtzis, in a statement. “Unless these funds come quickly, we will not be able to fully respond to the life-saving needs of civilians who flee Syria every hour of the day – many in a truly desperate condition.”

The head of the UN High Commission for Refugees in Syria, Radhouane Nouicer, told reporters in Geneva that Syrians are running out of safe areas where people can flee.

“We are focusing on life-saving interventions and aiming to help people who have become displaced, host families and communities, and the poor suffering from the multiple effects of the current events,” Nouicer said.

UNICEF Regional Director Maria Calivis said in a statement that half of the refugees coming into camps are children. "Their numbers rise inexorably," Calivis said, "The evolving situation on the ground has outpaced our efforts to raise the necessary funds. A further response … is once more urgently required."

On Monday UNHCR also announced a joint Jordanian-U.N. operation center to better coordinate between humanitarian relief efforts for Syrian refugees.

The number of refugees in Jordan is expected to reach one million by mid-2013, UNHCR added.

The U.N. said that $1 billion was needed to support refugees in neighboring countries, both for those already there and the numbers of people expected to arrive in the next year.  The other $500 million is allocated to assist those still in Syria, as outlined in the Syrian Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan, released on Wednesday. 

The U.N. also said last week they still need over $80 million for aid for the remainder of 2012. UNHCR said that they've received about 70 percent of the almost $500 million they had requested for 2012.

The $1.5 billion for Syria would be in addition to a larger U.N. plan announced last week to raise $8.5 million, "to deliver urgent humanitarian air to 51 million people around the world in 2013" the U.N. statement said.

On Monday, the U.S. State Department condemned an attack in an area of Damascus home to 150,000 Palestinian refugees that killed "dozens of civilians."

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