Some 5.6 million Syrians need help outside the war-torn country and one million of them are children born in exile, UN agencies and partners said on Tuesday, in an appeal for $5.5 billion to cover humanitarian needs for 2019.
Since conflict erupted in Syria in 2011, host communities in neighbouring countries have supported those who have fled, despite the significant impact on their own development, The UN Refugee Agency's (UNHCR) Amin Awad, Regional Refugee Coordinator for Syria and Iraq, told journalists in Geneva:
“We are appealing this year for $5.5 billion, that is to support neighbouring countries, but also to support operations assisting refugees in the areas of health, water, sanitation and food, education, psycho-social support, community services and so on and so forth.”
In total, 3.9 million people from host communities in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq are to benefit from the appeal. “These countries have been living under significant strains and have been super generous to all of the refugees that have been there, but it’s also important for these countries to think not only about how they can support in the present, but also in the future,” said Senior Regional Manager for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Samuel Rizk.
Following the 2015 launch of the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), around $12 billion in aid has been distributed in the five main host countries, via more than 270 humanitarian and development partners.
Help is also required inside Syria, with up to 250,000 people expected to return there next year from outside. So far this year, around 28,000 have gone home, Mr Awad said, noting that returnees are provided with winter shelter kits, household items and additional help from 100 community centres in operation inside Syria.
“A lot of them are currently going to the governorate of Daraa, there are some them going to the governorate of Damascus,” the UNHCR official noted. “Many of them are going to some areas in Homs, we expect for sure people who are from Idlib, (but) that will take time.”
One million Syrian children born in exile
Insisting that all returns should be voluntary with people allowed to return “in safety and dignity”, the UNHCR official explained that the agency is working with the Government of Syria and providing basic services including health, education and housing. He said that a significant number of youngsters were also in need.
“Remember we will have a big number of children returning” he said. “There are now one million refugee children who are born in exile during the last eight years in the neighbouring countries alone.”
It is critical that the international community continues to recognize the plight of Syrian refugees, Mr Awad insisted, noting that many families have resorted to early marriage and child labour, just to survive.
“They have been borrowing money, they are indebted and a lot of them are living below the poverty line,” he said. “Seventy to 80 per cent…are living below the poverty line in their host communities or countries.”
In 2019, the aid funding will be used to helping to boost protection for refugees and get more children into education.
In addition, basic services will be enhanced and there will be a focus on providing economic opportunities - especially for women – at a local and national level.