Syrian crisis enters ninth year, UN seeks $8.8 billion aid
The United Nations has requested generous funding from international communities after the inside-Syria plan and request in aid for refugees fell short of funds in 2018.
The Syrian crisis has entered its ninth year. At least 12 million Syrians are either refugees or displaced inside the country. This adds up to around half the pre-war population.
On 12 March 2019, the eve of the third Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, United Nations (UN) representatives warned that the country’s crisis is far from over. The focus is not only on providing support to vulnerable Syrians and refugees but also on the communities that host them.
Syria is home to the world’s largest refugee crisis
Countries that offer asylum and protection to Syrian refugees are struggling financially. Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt host over 5.6 million Syrians who fled the country. The UN has sought an appeal for 5.5 billion USD in aid and a resilience plan for refugees in neighbouring countries. Last year, this plan requested 5.6 billion USD. It was only 62 percent funded. UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi said, “Around 70 percent of Syrian refugees live a "razor-edge" existence in poverty.”
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 13.1 million people in Syria need some form of humanitarian aid and protection. In 2018, the UN’s 2018 Syria Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) by OCHA categorised funding requirements across 12 sectors.
The Syria HRP—commonly referred to as the inside-Syria plan—seeking 3.4 billion USD was only 65 percent funded. An estimated 83 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line, and people are increasingly vulnerable due to the loss or lack of sustained livelihoods.
Of the 12 sectors, food security only received 48.5 percent of the coverage originally needed: 1.2 billion USD. Over six million in Syria are food insecure. This number may increase to nine million in the upcoming years.
Currently, five million children in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance. Syrian children are impacted by the violence, displacement, severed family ties and lack of access to vital services. An estimated 2.6 million children remain displaced inside Syria and 2.5 million children are living as refugees in neighbouring countries.
On 11 March 2019, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said, “In 2018 alone, 1,106 children were killed in the fighting. These are only the numbers that the UN has been able to verify, which means the true figures are likely much higher.” This records the highest number of children killed in a single year since the start of the war.
Over 40 percent of schools in Syria have been damaged or destroyed. The remaining have been used to shelter displaced people. OCHA reported that education received only 47.2 percent—113.5 million USD—of the required 240.3 million USD in 2018. Two million boys and girls are out of school in Syria.
This year, the UN has made an appeal for 3.3 billion USD in funds for victims inside Syria. “Without an immediate and substantial injection of funds, life-saving provisions of food, water, health care, shelter, and protection services will likely be interrupted,” said UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock.