UN seeks $194 mn to aid Syrians hit by seven-year conflict

Geneva, Feb 23 (IANS/AKI) United Nations migration agency IOM on Friday appealed for almost $194 million to help millions of Syrians living in and outside their war-torn country as well to aid the communities who are hosting them.

“Seven years into the armed conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate,” said the International Organisation for Migration.

It said it is seeking a total $193,767,960 dollars in aid as 13 million people are still in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria and over 5.5 million Syrians have taken refuge in the five neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

The funds will provide non-food items and shelter support, access to safe water health and other services including community-led protection services, livelihood opportunities, schooling, and services for refugee camps, IOM said.

“These interventions are vital to ensuring that Syrians get the life-saving assistance and livelihood support that many desperately need,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.

Within Syria, those in need of humanitarian aid include 6.1 million people who lost their homes. Nearly 3 million people are living in inacccessible and/or besieged areas, IOM said.

The Syrian crisis has severely hampered the economic growth of host countries. With high unemployment rates, especially among young people, and limited resources available, governments and municipalities are struggling to provide basic services for refugees, IOM noted.

While IOM tracked 850,000 internally displaced persons who returned to their homes in more stable areas of Syria in 2017, a far greater number (2.9 million) fled their homes over the same period amid the ongoing conflict, IOM said.

Access to primary health care has been drastically reduced inside Syria while agricultural production is now half 2011 levels, according to IOM.

Livelihoods have also been badly damaged by the conflict and many areas of the country are contaminated. Almost one-third of all sub-districts in Syria were contaminated by ‘explosive hazards’, according to a joint IOM-UNMASS assessment done in November 2017.

“In this increasingly protracted situation, refugees continue to need access to durable solutions including resettlement and family reunification,” IOM said.

IOM organised transfer last year of over 37,000 Syrian refugees from Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt to 23 countries including Canada, Germany, Britain, France, Sweden, Norway, the US and the Netherlands.

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