U.S. Humanitarian Aid Reaching Syria and Neighboring Countries
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 more than $76 million this fiscal year in humanitarian assistance to help an estimated 500,000 people inside Syria, as well as the tens of thousands who have fled to neighboring countries to escape the violence. This assistance includes:
- $27.5 million to the World Food Program (WFP);
- $18.1 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);
- $15.1 million to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs);
- $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);
- $2.75 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF);
- $1 million to the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC);
- $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.
The International Response:
Humanitarian assistance is distributed throughout the country to the most vulnerable through UN agencies and other international and local nongovernmental organizations. The UN has appealed for $180 million to provide food, water, shelter, medical care, education, and psychosocial services to address the needs of those affected by the violence in Syria. The ICRC partners with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) to access vulnerable populations in need. The SARC has an extensive network of staff in all 14 governorates in the country and since March 2011, five SARC staff members have been killed in Syria.
In late June, the UN and 36 NGO partners launched a revised Regional Response Plan for Syrian refugees, jointly appealing for $193 million to assist those who have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey.
Humanitarian assistance is provided on the basis of need, regardless of political, religious, ethnic or sectarian affiliation. Humanitarian assistance provided by the U.S. Government through international and nongovernmental organizations is completely separate and distinct from nonlethal aid provided to opposition groups and bilateral support given to neighboring countries.
As a leading provider of humanitarian relief to those affected by the crisis in Syria, the United States urges the international community to generously support the UN agencies, ICRC, and international NGOs who are responding to growing humanitarian needs in Syria and neighboring countries. These partners need adequate resources to be able to respond to current needs and scale up operations quickly if and when access to besieged areas improves.
The UN estimates that up to 1.5 million people in Syria are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, with approximately 10 million people affected by the violence. With one million people internally displaced, shelter is a growing need as Syrian host communities have reached the capacity of their ability to house the displaced. As a result, significant numbers are taking refuge in schools and other public buildings throughout the country.
The U.S. Government has provided life-sustaining medical supplies for thousands of people affected by violence in areas of Syria that have been hardest hit, such as Homs, Daraa, and Damascus. The U.S. Government has provided medical supplies that can sustain 16,000 people, as well as basic and emergency health care to approximately 9,000 patients in some of the most affected areas in Syria. Partners are distributing hygiene kits to help prevent water-borne diseases, along with other necessary household supplies, such as shelter materials, blankets, and kitchen sets. Children who have been so greatly affected by this conflict are receiving psycho-social support services. The United States is also providing support for coordination and the logistics and supply chain operation inside Syria, which allows life-saving aid to be delivered as effectively as possible, when and where possible.
The World Food Program, working through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, is delivering emergency food rations to all 14 governorates in Syria. While WFP was prepared to reach 850,000 people in July, distributions reached 540,000 people because of ongoing violence.
Lack of access to populations in need due to the escalating violence is the key limiting factor for effectively delivering humanitarian assistance to meet the rising need. UN agencies are operating with reduced international staff due to security constraints, and rising violence in Damascus and Aleppo is limiting the movement for both residents to seek supplies and relief agencies to deliver them.
In recent days, humanitarian partners including ICRC have continued to assist displaced people and others affected by the fighting in Damascus and elsewhere. In Aleppo, ICRC arranged for water and sanitation technicians to install water tanks, pipes and showers and to carry out repair work in 10 schools hosting some 2,000 displaced people. In rural Damascus, technicians continue to work to improve access to safe drinking water in schools hosting hundreds of displaced people. In Homs, SARC will deliver food parcels sufficient to meet one month’s needs of more than 11,500 individuals. In Damascus, ICRC has provided the SARC food parcels sufficient to feed 25,000 people for one month for distribution to displaced people.
In order to address the critical shortage of emergency medical care for those wounded by the violence, international partners are working hard to expand operations. International and nongovernmental organizations have delivered enough medicine and surgical kits to support more than 100 major surgeries and 360 minor surgeries. The SARC and local partners have continued to provide emergency healthcare and first-aid services in Damascus and elsewhere. ICRC has supplied them with dressing materials, medical supplies, and helped set up mobile health clinics.
In Jordan, approximately 37,400 displaced Syrians have been registered by UNHCR, with approximately 2,300 scheduled for registration. Local organizations have identified 50,000 Syrians in need of assistance in Jordan. While the Government of Jordan estimates there are 140,000 Syrians present in-country, many have not registered with UNHCR as they are not in need of immediate assistance. The recent spike in arrivals has filled transit facilities in northern Jordan beyond capacity, prompting the Jordanian Government to open July 29 the first formal camp for Syrians in the village of al-Za'atri.
With U.S. Government support, a range of UN agencies and NGOs are providing relief assistance, education, and health support to displaced Syrians and other vulnerable populations in coordination with various Jordanian ministries. UNICEF is responding to growing water and sanitation needs at all sites. With the start of Ramadan, WFP has adjusted its schedule to provide hot meals for more than 3,300 people per day in three transit centers as well as at the Za'atri camp. WFP is also providing over 1,300 daytime meals for non-fasting individuals including lactating mothers and children. Working with local partners, WFP has distributed family food packages for 35,000 Syrians in urban settings in Jordan in the month of July.
In Lebanon, the Government’s High Relief Commission and the Ministry of Social Affairs are working closely with a consortium of international partners led by UNHCR to protect and assist more than 35,300 Syrians residing mainly in north Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and the Beirut area.
The recent influx of Syrians into Lebanon highlighted the need to identify better options for sheltering displaced Syrians in need of assistance. Host communities have generously offered their homes to Syrian families since the beginning of the crisis, but with increasing numbers of arrivals, other solutions must be found. The Ministry of Education is helping to identify unused school buildings that can be converted into collective shelters, and UNHCR and its partners are working with municipalities to renovate other unused public buildings as additional shelters. Partners have also provided host families in north Lebanon with cash assistance and shelter tool kits to renovate their homes.
Access to essential secondary health care was seriously affected when the High Relief Commission publicly announced that it no longer had funding to cover the cost of secondary and tertiary health care for Syrians. Partner agencies are covering the costs of life-saving medical care and hospitalization for registered displaced Syrians in the short-term, but they do not have the financial resources to permanently fill this urgent gap. In the Bekaa, the humanitarian community is currently covering the costs of primary and secondary health care for Syrians. Additional funding to cover urgent health care services is needed.
Since January 2012, the ICRC has supported emergency medical services and evacuations by the Lebanese Red Cross, distributed materials to treat seriously injured patients, and helped cover the cost of treatment and post-operative care for injured Syrians. Additionally, ICRC has distributed essential assistance in July to around 9,400 Syrian refugees in the Bekaa, including food rations, mattresses, blankets, hygiene items, kitchen sets, and other household items.
Some 6,500 Syrians in Lebanon received food, hygiene and baby kits, blankets, sanitary napkins, diapers, baby milk and mattresses in July. Currently, WFP is providing food kits to about 24,000 displaced Syrians. About 6,000 refugees registered with UNHCR in the Bekaa are receiving food vouchers. Partners assisted 8,125 Syrians and 1,735 Lebanese returnees this month with food, hygiene and baby kits, and sanitary napkins.
This month, placement tests were administered for children to join the Summer Accelerated Learning Program that will benefit 600 children by filling the gap of time lost from the past academic year due to displacement. Courses started the last week in July and will continue for the next two months.
According to the Government of Turkey, as of July 31, 2012, there were more than 44,000 displaced Syrians in seven camps in Turkey. Plans are underway to open two additional camps. The Government of Turkey has declared a temporary protection regime for Syrians, the primary elements of which include: an open border policy with admission to the territory for those seeking protection; protection against forcible returns; and access to basic registration, where immediate needs are addressed.
The Government of Turkey, with the help of the Turkish Red Crescent, provides camp-based humanitarian assistance. Turkey reports that it has spent over $200 million to support Syrians seeking refuge in Turkey. At the Turkish Government’s request, UNHCR provides technical assistance to Turkish authorities on protection issues including camp management, voluntary repatriation, and registration. UNHCR staff has also deployed to border provinces to advise the government on operational response. UNHCR also support the Government of Turkey with the provision of core relief items, such as tents and blankets, for emergency shelter as requested.
Over 9,000 Syrian Kurds have sought refuge in northern Iraq, with nearly 8,500 registered with UNHCR. In addition, over 20,000 Iraqi refugees have recently returned to Iraq as a result of the increased violence in Syria. The Iraqi Government announced that it plans to provide $43 million to assist returnees and Syrians. UNHCR, IOM, WFP, and other USG-funded partners are working closely with national and local authorities throughout Iraq to assist returnees and Syrian refugees.
A new camp site has been identified adjacent to the existing Domiz camp in the north of Iraq, and provincial authorities are identifying additional sites for temporary housing and future camps. In coordination with the Iraqi Government, UNHCR is establishing another camp for Syrian refugees in Anbar province, where approximately 3,000 non-Kurdish Syrians have crossed in recent days. UNHCR is transporting generators, septic tanks, and portable toilets and has begun erecting tents. It is expected that the camp will be ready to receive refugees in early August.
At the existing camp in Domiz, the medical unit in the camp continues to provide health services to an average of 50-60 individuals per day, and dental and vaccination teams regularly visit the camp. WFP is providing food assistance to 6,500 Syrian refugees, with priority given to refugees in the camps in Domiz.