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UN agency and Syria agree on $2 million deal to give Iraqi refugees medical aid

UN agency and Syria agree on $2 million deal to give Iraqi refugees medical aid

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government of Syria signed an agreement to provide the country – sheltering over one million Iraqi refugees – with $2.06 million to renovate hospitals, train medical staff and provide new medical equipment, including ambulances.

This agreement signed yesterday, which is the fourth such arrangement between UNHCR and Syria, is part of the agency’s efforts to assist the country respond to the influx of Iraqi refugees, UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told reporters in Geneva today.

Since the start of this year, UNHCR has committed close to $10 million in agreements with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the Ministry of Education and the Governorate of Al Hassake. These funds are being put towards rehabilitating 70 schools while erecting three new ones, distribute thousands of Iraqi children in Syria with textbooks and other school supplies. The money is also being used to build a new hospital in the capital Damascus, aid nine health clinics and feed both Palestinian and Iraqi refugees.

Earlier this year, the agency created a new registration centre for displaced Iraqis in Douma, 25 kilometres from the capital, and thus far, 77,683 Iraqi refugees have registered. The most vulnerable of these people have been identified to receive additional medical attention, community services and resettlement assistance.

The UN estimates that two million Iraqis have been driven from their homes within their country, while another two million have fled abroad. Between 40,000 and 50,000 Iraqis continue to flee each month.

Last month, UNHCR convened an international conference in Geneva, gathering hundreds of concerned participants from Governments, aid organizations and UN bodies. Participants discussed how to address the humanitarian needs of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) both inside Iraq and in neighbouring countries.

The conference urged the international community to support those Governments, particularly Jordan and Syria, shouldering the burden of hosting Iraqi refugees who have fled their country. It also appealed to other countries to continue providing protection, humanitarian aid and hospitality to the refugees until they can return to their homes.

In January, UNHCR issued a $60 million appeal to allow it to help hundreds of thousands of refugees and IDPs impacted by the conflict.

Although the initial targets have been met, Ms. Pagonis said that “the needs in the region go far beyond UNHCR’s programmes.”

“We continue to urge more international help for the neighbouring countries to ensure that they will continue to keep their borders open to those in need of refuge,” she added.