UNITED NATIONS: (APP) As a major international conference on Syria gets underway in Brussels, United Nations agencies have warned that a sluggish financial support by member states would put vital assistance for millions of refugees and the communities hosting them at risk.
"The situation is getting desperate," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for 2017, a funding appeal launched in January that calls for $4.63 billion in vital assistance for refugees and host communities.
To date, only $433 million, or just 9 per cent, of the amount requested has been received.
"We recognise and applaud the donations made so far, but the simple truth is that funding isn't keeping up with needs," Grandi added.
In its seventh year, the conflict in Syria remains the largest humanitarian challenge in the world with 13.5 million men, women and children inside Syria in need of urgent assistance.
There are now more than 5 million Syrian refugees living in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and many more have made the dangerous journey to Europe and farther afield.
The Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, being held today and tomorrow, aims to rev up funding support.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) are extremely concerned by the current low funding levels.
Without additional funding, all areas of assistance will be curtailed this year. Food and cash assistance will be reduced or cut by mid-year, challenging stability and security in the region.
With the majority of Syrian refugees falling below national poverty lines, families will face the impossible choice of taking their children out of school, adding to the half a million children already missing out on education.
Support for livelihoods and job creation programmes will be slowed at a time when unemployment is on the rise for refugees and host communities alike.
"The story is the same throughout the region water and sanitation services, employment and housing markets are all under strain," UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said. "UNDP and its 3RP partners are on the ground expanding infrastructure, boosting livelihoods, and fostering community development in response but the needs are massive and we need more support."
The 3RP brings together over 240 partners in a coordinated region-wide humanitarian response, helping over 5 million Syrian refugees and 4.4 million members of host communities in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.