Space inside the camp has been exhausted, and so new arrivals have begun to erect temporary shelters around the edges. Many have nowhere else to go. This informal part of the camp is located on private land, outside the official camp boundaries. Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen
It is becoming increasingly difficult to attract the necessary funding to support Syrians in need. Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen

Scale up support to Syrian civilians

Tiril Skarstein|Published 30. Mar 2015
When donor countries meet for a pledging conference for Syria in Kuwait this week, they need to provide the necessary 8.4 billion dollars in funding, or aid agencies will be forced to significantly scale back assistance.

The UN is appealing for 8.4 billion USD to meet the needs of Syrian refugees, support the host countries and assist civilians inside Syria in 2015. This is the largest appeal ever of its kind. Still, it is equal to less than 1.5 US dollars a day for every Syrian in need, 12.2 million inside Syria and more than 3.9 million refugees in neighbouring countries.

It is also less than the UK government spent on the London Olympics, a fifth of the price of the Beijing Olympics and a sixth of the cost of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

“Wealthy countries can clearly afford to provide the necessary funding. It is a question of priorities – and it is about time our political leaders make the right ones,” said the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Regional Director, Carsten Hansen, ahead of the pledging conference in Kuwait Tuesday 31 March.

Donor fatigue

It is becoming increasingly difficult to attract the necessary funding to support Syrians in need. Last year’s appeals were only 58% funded, compared to 71% in 2013.

“While humanitarian needs are increasing rapidly, funding is not keeping pace. This led to sharp cuts in the assistance last year and we fear this year may become even more difficult”, said Hansen.

Food aid has been cut back. And lack of funding is leaving a large number of children out of school.

Closed borders

Countries neighbouring Syria have generously welcomed more than 3.9 million Syrian refugees, but their capacity is over-stretched. Faced with limited international support and huge strains on their economies, countries bordering Syria are turning away civilians seeking safety from Syria’s violence.

“We urgently need to provide the necessary support to Syria’s neighbouring countries, so that Syrians fleeing violence and persecution can still find places of safety ”, said Hansen.

In addition to scaling up financial support to the region, NRC is calling on the international community to take in at least 5% of refugees through resettlement programmes. Up until now, only 2% of the refugees have been offered a resettlement place outside the Middle East.

“It is not enough to only provide financial support to countries neighbouring Syria. Wealthy nations also need to accept far more refugees for resettlement. It is not an either or discussion. We need to do both,” said Hansen.