U.S. Humanitarian Aid Reaching Syria and Neighboring Countries

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 16, 2012

The United States is pursuing every avenue to provide humanitarian relief to those affected by the violence in Syria and is engaged in focused diplomatic efforts to secure full and unfettered access for humanitarian organizations to reach those in need. The United States is providing almost $64 million during the current fiscal year for this crisis. Our assistance continues to reach those affected by the violence through our contributions to international and non-governmental humanitarian partners, including:

  • $27.5 million to the World Food Program (WFP);
  • $15.1 million to non-governmental organizations (NGOs);
  • $8.5 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);
  • $8 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC);
  • $3 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA);
  • $750,000 to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF);
  • $500,000 to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; and
  • $300,000 to the UN Department of Safety and Security for support of humanitarian operations.

Within Syria:

The UN estimates that up to 1.5 million people in Syria are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Ongoing violence has forced thousands to flee their homes, with the number of internally displaced Syrians estimated between 300,000 and 500,000. These, as well as other vulnerable and besieged communities, have received U.S. assistance in the form of medical supplies, food, water, clothing, hygiene kits, and other humanitarian relief. Humanitarian assistance is provided on the basis of need, not political affiliation, and is being distributed to the most vulnerable through UN agencies and other international and local non-governmental organizations. Working together, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and ICRC, as well as UNICEF, WFP, UNHCR, UNRWA, and other international and local NGOs are providing assistance to Syrians and other civilians at great risk. Humanitarian workers are putting their lives on the line on a daily basis to deliver aid to those suffering from the escalating violence. Since March 2011, five SARC volunteers have been killed in Syria.

Thousands of families have been displaced during the past two weeks due to intensified fighting. Coping mechanisms and resources to support displaced Syrians are dwindling. Until recently, host families provided shelter to displaced Syrians, but reports indicate that displaced populations are increasingly finding shelter in public buildings and parks. Household and community supplies are limited. Medical supplies are stretched and access to public health care facilities is restricted. Lack of access to populations in need due to Syrian government restrictions and the escalating violence remains the number one limiting factor for effectively delivering humanitarian assistance to meet the overwhelming need.

Partners distribute hygiene supplies, medical assistance and other essentials items, and operate two health clinics, two mobile medical units and four health posts in conjunction with the SARC. UNHCR has delivered mattresses, blankets, diapers, and kitchen sets to 72,500 people. UNICEF, in partnership with the SARC, has distributed hygiene kits, children’s clothes, backpacks and baby kits for 25,000 people. UNFPA has distributed 2,500 hygiene kits and IFRC has supported the SARC in the distribution of more than 4,000 hygiene kits, more than 3,000 kitchen sets, more than 8,000 blankets, and 4,900 mattresses.

As food insecurity increases, nutritional supplements are increasingly important. The Red Cross/Red Crescent has supplied approximately 9,000 cans of high-energy milk powder, and UNICEF has distributed food for 11,400 children. WFP, through the SARC, is delivering food to all 14 governorates in Syria. The highest number of food rations are allocated to Homs and rural Damascus, where the needs are the highest. In June, WFP reached 500,000 people, and aims to reach 850,000 people in July. The monthly food basket contains a variety of basic food commodities and provides two-thirds of overall daily rood requirements.

Despite this progress, much more needs to be done to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria, particularly the critical shortage of emergency medical care for those wounded by the violence. Our partners are working hard to expand humanitarian operations to reach thousands more in need that are trapped in communities under attack. The United States urges the international community to generously support the UN agencies, ICRC, and international NGOs who are leading the humanitarian response in Syria. These partners need adequate resources to be able to scale up operations quickly if and when access to besieged areas improves.

In Neighboring Countries:

We commend the generosity of the Governments of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq, who have kept their borders open and are hosting and providing assistance to those fleeing the violence in Syria.

According to the Government of Turkey, as of July 13, 2012, there were nearly 39,000 displaced Syrians in camps in Turkey. The Turkish government, with the help of the Turkish Red Crescent, provides camp-based humanitarian assistance that exceeds international standards. At the Turkish government’s request, UNHCR provides technical assistance to Turkish authorities on protection issues including camp management, voluntary repatriation, and registration. In 2012, UNHCR has provided 3,100 family tents, 24,000 blankets, and 10,000 mattresses in support of the Turkish government’s humanitarian response to the displaced Syrians in Turkey.

In Lebanon, the Government’s High Relief Commission is working closely with a consortium of international partners led by UNHCR to protect and assist more than 31,000 Syrians. UNHCR has registered nearly 28,500 Syrians in north Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and the Beirut area. Among the most pressing needs are food and basic household items, shelter, medical care and psychosocial support. Following disruptions from security incidents in Tripoli and Wadi Khaled areas that occurred in June, assistance efforts in the North have returned to normal as the situation stabilized.

More than 7,700 individuals received food, hygiene and baby kits in North Lebanon in June. The first centralized distribution took place in Tripoli in June, with more than 1,000 families, including Lebanese hosts, receiving food and other essential household items. ICRC distributed assistance to some 6,300 Syrian refugees, including food rations, mattresses, blankets, hygiene items, kitchen sets and other household items. The ICRC also provided supplies for local organizations assisting new refugees arriving from Syria. In other areas, WFP has shifted to a voucher system whereby Syrians can choose the food and household items they require. In June and July, WFP will assist around 15,000 Syrians through food vouchers in the Bekaa Valley.

The provision of primary medical assistance remains a top concern. Partners have focused on a number of health initiatives, including providing insulin, childbirth assistance, reproductive health kits, prescription glasses, and training for health workers. ICRC has financed the establishment of a temporary station for Lebanese Red Cross emergency medical services to facilitate the evacuation of casualties from border areas and transfer them to hospitals. With ICRC support, the Lebanese Red Cross has evacuated more than 620 wounded Syrians to date. Additionally, ICRC has distributed materials to treat 400 seriously injured patients to three hospitals. The need to expand primary and secondary health care services to reach all displaced remains a priority, especially through mobile clinics.

Outreach visits in June demonstrated that alternative shelter arrangements need to be identified for families currently living in unsuitable conditions. Partners have begun constructing prefabricated houses on properties serving as collective housing. To help address the urgent need for sustainable shelter options, a number of shelters in north Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley are being rehabilitated. Assessments indicate a significant number of families do not have access to potable water.

In Jordan, more than 32,800 displaced Syrians have been registered by UNHCR, with approximately 2,000 scheduled for registration. Local organizations have identified 50,000 Syrians in need of assistance in Jordan. The Government of Jordan estimates there are 140,000 Syrians present in country, many of whom are not in need of immediate assistance, and therefore, have not registered with UNHCR. The recent spike in arrivals has placed severe pressure on the absorptive capacity of hosting facilities in Ramtha Governorate in northern Jordan. Alternative sites are being prepared for any future influx of displaced Syrians and agencies are mobilizing the necessary resources to ensure that the sites are ready if and when they are needed.

A range of UN agencies are providing relief assistance, education, and health support to displaced Syrians and other vulnerable populations in Jordan in coordination with various Jordanian Ministries. UNHCR has recently implemented retinal scan identification to ensure the integrity of the cash assistance distribution process. Working with local partners, WFP has distributed more than 200 metric tons of family food packages, reaching 23,400 Syrians in urban settings in Jordan in the month of June. WFP continues to provide hot meals to the displaced residing in two transit centers and family food packages to a third center, covering the food needs of an average of 1,500 Syrians daily.

UNICEF and its partners have reached more than 6,500 vulnerable Syrian children and family members with psychosocial activities in Ramtha; case management and referrals in key areas of Jordan; and training sessions to empower Syrian parents with enhanced knowledge on basic health, nutrition, and protection issues for their children. They have also recently begun a series of school-based summer holiday remedial education classes, targeting 5,500 vulnerable Syrian and Jordanian children in 15 directorates.

Packages of essential items, such as hygiene kits and clothing, have been distributed in early July to almost 575 families and 120 single Syrians in various Jordanian cities. UNHCR and partners are also implementing quick impact projects to benefit local communities and host families.

In Iraq, UNHCR has registered nearly 6,500 Syrians, with more than 300 individuals awaiting registration. Many families are staying with relatives and do not immediately seek registration; the most destitute of arrivals have relocated to Domiz camp, where the number of residents has reached more than 2,300 individuals. A total of 340 tents have been erected, with construction started on additional tent foundations, bathrooms, latrines, and cooking areas. The medical unit in the camp continues to provide daily health services. Potable water is provided by tanker. Single individuals receive three hot meals daily, while families with kitchen facilities receive dry food rations.

PRN: 2012/1159