The UN and other aid agencies have urged international donors for more financial support for Syrian refugees. Due to a current underfunding, the UN might have to reduce ongoing assistance programs for Syrian refugees and host countries in the region.
The UN and other NGOs have asked for 5.6 billion dollars this year for the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) to support Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.
The agencies have so far received 18 to 22 percent of this amount, as Reuters reports. "That is not enough", said Amin Awad, director of the UNHCR's Middle East and North Africa Bureau. "We are already falling behind in providing cash assistance to refugees, in making sure we are picking up health bills, in supporting governments and municipalities to continue to give services to refugees", Awad announced at a conference in Jordan. "The situation is very dire."
Four-fifths short of total needed
A lack of funding would also force the UN children agency to cut off the water service it provides to host communities and in camps in Jordan and Lebanon, UNICEF Regional Director Geert Cappelare said. Cash assistance to vulnerable families would have to be halted as well, he added.
Lebanon and Jordan respectively host the highest and second-highest share of Syrian refugees relative to their population. They are facing a particular budget shortfall. Lebanon's aid program is only 12 percent funded and Jordan has received only 21 percent of necessary finances, the UNHCR said according to Reuters.
Host countries in crisis
The UN assistance plan aims to support host communities Lebanon and Jordan that are facing severe economic challenges in light of the refugee influx. Reuters reported that Lebanon has the world's third-highest debt to GDP ratio in the world and a stagnant growth. Jordanians took to the streets on Wednesday to protest a deterioration in life quality and tax increases as part of austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund. Turkey, another nation with a large proportion of Syrian refugees, is facing massive inflation.
The Syrian war has left more than 5.5 million registered Syrian refugees. They are fleeing a seven-year conflict with no political solution in sight. As the war continues, more refugees will wind up in neighboring host countries burdening public services and increasing competition for jobs. Samuel Rizk, who works for the UN development agency UNDP concluded that financial assistance is necessary for "social cohesion" in the region, Reuters reported.