Desperate Syrians struggle to survive amid inadequate international aid


  • As the United Nations General Assembly in New York begins, aid groups urge member states to prioritize humanitarian aid.
  • The significant impact of the crisis in Syria on both Syrians and host communities must be recognized by everyone.
  • Increased funding is needed to give humanitarian agencies the flexibility to help those most drastically in need of support.

NEW YORK (September 23, 2013) — Millions of Syrians, forced to flee their homes because of the violent conflict engulfing their country, are without sufficient food, shelter and lifesaving medical care as international donors fail to meet United Nation funding appeals, 14 humanitarian organizations warned today.

The agencies, all members of the Syria International NGO Forum (SIRF), urge heads of state meeting in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly to urgently increase financial support to immediate and long-term needs of Syrians.

“All humanitarian agencies on the ground can identify groups of war-affected Syrians in urgent need of assistance that are being left to fend for themselves,” says Hugh Fenton, Chair of the Syria International Forum (SIRF) that represents 31 agencies in the region.

Large numbers of refugees, including women and children, arrive in neighboring countries injured, disabled, sick and traumatized by the loss of relatives, homes and the life they knew. An estimated 70 percent the region are moving into villages, towns and cities, rather than formal camps, and are barely scraping by.

In the border towns of north Jordan, refugees struggling to access health care are unable to seek treatment for chronic and acute conditions such as diabetes, cardiac disorders, respiratory infections, diarrhea.

In the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq, where more than 50,000 Syrians arrived during a single week last month, refugees fortunate enough to find work will find that 75 percent of their earnings will go towards sky-rocketing rents, leaving very little for food, medicine and other essentials.

In Lebanon, one fifth of the population is now a refugee. Across the villages of the Bekaa Valley, groups of refugees living in small communities of makeshift tents made from wood and advertising tarpaulin face eviction as they struggle to pay escalating rents. Already indebted to local grocers and unable to pay for medical care for their children, they are at a loss of how they will cope without more financial assistance. The most desperate sneak back into Syria to get medicine they could not otherwise afford or obtain.

Humanitarian agencies in Lebanon are providing startup kits, comprising of mattresses, blankets and kitchen sets and offering cash assistance to refugees struggling to cope. But with 75,000 Syrians arriving a month, the amount of available funding fails to keep up.

“It is of the utmost urgency that every one of us, whether you are a donor, government or member of the public, recognizes the significant impact of the crisis on both Syrians and host communities. We need increased funding to give humanitarian agencies the flexibility to help those most drastically in need of our support. This, and nothing less, is what we owe to Syrians in need,” says Sarah Case, a SIRF board member.

This press release is issued on behalf of the following agencies responding to the Syria crisis: Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), Danish Refugee Council, Handicap International, International Rescue Committee, Intersos, Medair, Norwegian Refugee Council, Première Urgence — Aide Médicale Internationale (PUAMI), Relief International, Save the Children, Solidarités International, Un Ponte Per, War Child, and World Vision.

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