International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Desperate Syrians struggle to survive amid inadequate international aid

As UN General Assembly begins, aid groups urge member states to prioritize humanitarian assistance

NEW YORK 23 Sep 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 UN 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 meet immediate and long-term needs of Syrians.

“All humanitarian agencies on the ground can identify war-affected Syrians in urgent need of assistance who are being left to fend for themselves,” says Hugh Fenton, Chair of SIRF.
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% across 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 get treatment for chronic and acute conditions such as diabetes, cardiac disorders, respiratory infections, and 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 have work find that 75 per cent of their earnings go to sky-rocketing rents, leaving very little for food, medicine and other essentials.

In Lebanon, refugees now make up one fifth of the population. Across villages of the Bekaa Valley, groups of refugees living in small communities of makeshift tents made from wood and tarpaulin face eviction as they struggle to pay escalating rent for the land. 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 in Lebanon. Humanitarian agencies in Lebanon are providing start-up kits, that include mattresses, blankets and kitchen sets, and offering cash assistance to struggling refugees. But with 75,000 Syrians arriving a month, the amount of available funding fails to keep up.

“It is of utmost urgency that donors, governments and members of the public recognize the significant impact of the crisis on both Syrians and host communities. Increased funding is needed to give humanitarian agencies the flexibility to help those most drastically in need of support,” says Sarah Case, a SIRF Board member.

This press release is issued by 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 (PU-AMI), Relief International, Save the Children, Solidarités International, Un ponte per…, War Child, World Vision.