Syrian Crisis Response Underfunded, Straining Host Countries

Syrian Crisis Response Underfunded, Straining Host Countries

The United Nations' 2016 funding appeal for the coordinated region-wide humanitarian response to the crisis in Syria is only 30 percent funded, a report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and more than two hundred national governments and international agencies finds.

The mid-year report (54 pages, PDF) of the 2016 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) examined year-to-date progress in providing assistance to refugees and host communities in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt and found that only $1.38 billion of the $4.54 billion sought by UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations, and NGOs had been received by the end of May. Although a pledge conference held in London last February raised $5.86 billion in commitments for 3RP and the Humanitarian Response Plan, the funds have been slow to materialize. With the Syrian conflict now in its sixth year, host governments and communities continue to bear a heavy political, socioeconomic, and security burden, the report notes, with public institutions stretched to their limits in terms of delivering basic services to the growing refugee population.

The Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan supports programs in the areas of protection, food security, education, health and nutrition, basic needs, shelter, livelihoods and social cohesion, and water, sanitation, and hygiene. To date in 2016, 3RP partners have provided food to more than two million individuals, cash assistance to 102,853 households, shelter assistance to 25,148 families, and primary healthcare consultations to more than a million people.

Increasingly, however, refugees are exhausting their own resources and falling into poverty. In Lebanon, for example, refugee households' average debt has increased while the number of people living below the poverty line has climbed to 70 percent, from 50 percent in 2014. And in Jordan, 90 percent of registered Syrian refugees in urban areas live below the poverty line, while more than 67 percent of refugee families have fallen into debt.

"One of the more striking things of concern to us is the specter of poverty hanging over the Syrian refugee populations and host communities in the five countries that take the most refugees — Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan," UNHCR spokesperson Leo Dobbs told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "[The host countries'] infrastructure is creaking; they are finding it more and more difficult to provide basic services and shelter and medical aid."

"UNHCR and Partners Warn in Syria Report of Growing Poverty, Refugee Needs." United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Press Release 07/05/2016. Alex Whiting. "Running Out of Resources, Syrian Refugees Fall Further Into Poverty, Debt: Report." Thomson Reuters Foundation 07/05/2016.