2013-06-08 Vatican Radio One in three Syrians, that is 6.8 million people, are currently in need of urgent help for food and shelter, and the numbers are only expected to rise.
Valerie Amos, head of the United Nations Humanitarian Operations, made the stark prediction at a press conference held in Geneva on Friday.
“We have just launched our biggest-ever appeal for Syria. We had hoped we not have to do it again but today we are asking for $4.4 billion for the whole of 2013. That’s more than half the combined total of all our other appeals, which cover 16 countries from Afghanistan through to Somalia,” she said.
In addition, the UN appealed for $830 million to assist Lebanon and Jordan, which are currently handling the largest number of Syrian refugees, bringing the total figure of the appeal to $5.2 billion.
The head of the UN High Commission for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said the figure may seem high but it is actually little compared with what is usually spent in the West for things such as fuel or overseas travel.
He, too, predicted the number of refugees only to increase, so long as the war rages on.
“We have now 1.6 million refugees in the countries around Syria but we are receiving 200,000 new refugees every month, 7,000 new refugees every day,” he told the press conference. “We expect that we might reach 3.5 million refugees by the end of the year.”
The World Food Programme’s largest operation is also being conducted in Syria, having delivered 500 million meals so far this year.
The largest donors to the UN for Syria to date are the European Commission, which pledged another 400 million euros last week, followed by Kuwait, the United States, Britain and Japan. Russia and China have contributed $10 million and $1 million respectively to the UN’s program for refugees. However, some nations have yet to honour their pledges.
In the meantime, the United States and Russia are planning talks in Geneva, possibly in July, to try to accelerate a resolution to the Syrian conflict.