Amman - Almost ten years after the beginning of the Syria conflict, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations have warned that the situation of Syrian refugees and their host communities is becoming increasingly critical. The warning came on Thursday at a virtual briefing to launch the 2021 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for the Syrian crisis - a USD 5.8 billion plan designed to support national efforts to deal with the impact of the refugee crisis in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq.
According to the latest 3RP estimates, more than 10 million people – including more than 5.5 million Syrian refugees and 4.8 million members of their host communities – need urgent support. This is the highest number of people in need in these countries since the crisis began, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and tough socio-economic conditions. In 2020, many refugees and host communities lost their livelihoods as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With savings exhausted, poverty levels have sky-rocketed and many people struggle to put food on the table or access critical social services. The most vulnerable remain firmly in day-to-day survival mode.
“The Syrian crisis remains the world’s biggest refugee crisis, and frankly the situation for many refugees and host communities is worse than it has ever been”, said Ayman Gharaibeh, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. “The generosity shown by host governments in the region is unparalleled; but the international community needs to step up to ensure sustained funding and support”, he added.
The concern remains that, unless funding levels are maintained and urgent action is taken, the situation will further deteriorate with potentially disastrous consequences across the region. The 3RP was funded at only 52 percent in 2020, its lowest funding level since it was established in 2015.
“The situation has become particularly dire for the most vulnerable among both refugee and host communities, with more and more people slipping into poverty,” said Sarah Poole, Deputy Regional Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “As an international community, we must be grateful for the unwavering hospitality and generosity of countries hosting refugees. Yet gratitude is not enough – we must also ensure sustained funding to build resilience in the face of unprecedented vulnerability.”
The required funds for 2021 will be used to help address the most pressing needs, among them for example covering school fees for 500,000 children and youth, food and cash assistance to over three million people, access to primary health care and hospital treatment for hundreds of thousands, livelihoods support, and helping to address the most common protection risks, such as gender-based violence. Much of the funds will also be used to strengthen national and local systems and their ability to deliver services to host communities and refugees who mostly live side-by-side.
Since its inception, the 3RP has been at the forefront of the international response to help host governments deal with the impacts of the Syria crisis. Co-led by UNHCR and UNDP, it is a strategic, coordination, planning, fundraising and advocacy platform for over 270 humanitarian and development partners. The 3RP has mobilized some USD 19 billion since 2015 thanks to the generosity of its donors.
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