United Nations humanitarian agencies and their partners on Thursday appealed for $193 million to help the growing number of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
The governments and host communities of these countries have shown tremendous generosity and hospitality to Syrian refugees, said Panos Moumtzis of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). "It is essential that the international community steps up its support for relief operations for refugees," he added.
Syria has been witnessing violence on a large scale since a popular uprising against the regime President Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago. The U.N. estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in that country and tens of thousands displaced.
U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan has convened a meeting of the Action Group for Syria in Geneva on Saturday to identify steps to secure full implementation of the six-point plan he has presented and relevant Security Council resolutions, including an immediate cessation of violence.
The six-point plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will attend the Geneva meeting, told reporters at U.N. Headquarters that he "sincerely hopes that this Action Group for Syria will be a turning point in our common efforts to address the crisis in Syria."
In the past three months, humanitarian agencies have registered an average of over 500 Syrian refugees per day. According to UNHCR, more than 96,000 Syrians are either registered or being assisted in neighboring countries, with numbers doubling since March. The agency estimates that the figure could double again by the end of the year.
"Around 75 percent of Syrian refugees are women and children. Most are entirely dependent on life-saving humanitarian assistance," said Moumtzis, who is UNHCR's Regional Coordinator for Syrian Refugees. To date, the appeal is only 26 percent funded.
The appeal seeks to provide assistance to Syrian refugees in camps as well as technical advice to the Government of Turkey, which is hosting some 33,000 Syrians who fled the conflict, representing the majority of refugees.
In addition, the appeal would support the increasing number of Iraqi and Somali refugees who have fled Syria for towns and cities in Turkey.
The plan is the result of the coordinated efforts of 44 international and national agencies involved in responding to the needs of Syrian refugees in four countries. The U.N. agencies taking part include UNHCR, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Food Program (WFP).
The agencies had originally appealed for $84.1 million in March, and the revision comes as the number of refugees continues to rise.
Meanwhile, WFP began a food voucher program to assist 40,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. The voucher system allows people living in urban settings to buy their food, as well as boost the local economy.
by RTT Staff Writer
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