The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today warned that it may be forced to stop humanitarian assistance to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan due to insufficient funds.
“The needs are rising exponentially and we are broke,” UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado told reporters in Geneva. “In concrete terms this means that by June we will stop delivering 3.5 million litres of water every day to Zaatari camp.”
Donors have so far contributed $12 million to UNICEF against an appeal of $57 million for its operation in Jordan this year.
UNICEF estimates that the number of Syrian refugees in Jordan will reach 1.2 million by the end of the year, and Ms. Mercado added that with the influx of new arrivals, needs are rapidly surpassing funding resources.
Without additional funds, UNICEF will not be able to open a third school it had been planning inside the camp, as it will not have the necessary resources to acquire textbooks and furniture, or cover the teachers’ salaries and the running costs of the school.
“This means the ministry of education will turn away Syrian refugee students seeking entry into Jordanian schools because we cannot provide support to any more than 30,000 Syrian school children already in Jordanian schools with UNICEF support,” Ms. Mercado said.
Lack of funding will also stop UNICEF’s provision of water, sanitation, immunization and nutrition support to two new camps slated to open in coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the Director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Ging, will begin a one-week visit to Syria and its neighbouring countries tomorrow to review the humanitarian response to the rapidly escalating crisis, which has now displaced more than 1.25 million Syrians.
Mr. Ging will be in Syria until Monday, and will then go to Lebanon, followed by Jordan and Turkey.
More than 70,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and more than three million displaced since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011. UNICEF estimates that out of the four million people in need, 50 per cent are children.