GENEVA - The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) warns it is running out of cash to provide life-saving assistance to millions of Syrian refugees and internally displaced living in dire and extremely precarious conditions.
UNHCR says it urgently needs $270 million to make it through the end of the year. This, it says, will provide millions of vulnerable people living inside and outside war-torn Syria with the vital aid and protection they need to survive the rigors of the oncoming winter season.
UNHCR cares for more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees, nearly half of whom are children, in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq as well as Egypt. Without financial support, the agency warns people also will have to go without health care or education.
It says many will have to resort to so-called negative coping mechanisms involving sexual exploitation, child labor and forced early marriage.
The lion’s share of the needed money will be used in support of Syrian refugees outside of their homeland. UNHCR spokesman, Babar Baloch says $73 million of the appeal will help meet the most acute and pressing needs of people displaced by the conflict inside Syria.
“Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced since the start of the year, and many now rely on humanitarian support to meet basic daily needs. Additional funding would allow UNHCR to rapidly scale up activities across key sectors such as protection, shelter, and the provision of basic aid, helping up to 1.8 million people,” Baloch said.
Earlier this year, the UNHCR appealed for nearly $2 billion to run its Syrian humanitarian assistance and protection operation for 2018. Only 31 percent of the funding goal has been met.
The UNHCR says the $270 million dollars needed until the end of the year represents only a tiny fraction of this year’s total appeal. It says it will be used to cover the most pressing and critical needs of some of the most destitute, disenfranchised people in the world.