US helps people lessen their suffering
As the Syrian refugee crisis continues to escalate, the United States of America today unveiled ways of helping to keep people alive and lessen their suffering.
In her speech in Washington DC before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, Assistant Secretary Anne C. Richard says the United States plays a leading role in directing U.S. humanitarian aid to the organizations that help refugees.
“Throughout the region, millions of people are being helped and kept alive.” – Ms. Richard
She says US’ partners include the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the UN Children’s fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and a number of non-governmental organizations.
She explains that in turn, they use contributions from the US and other major donors to provide food, clean water, emergency shelter, and health care as well as schools for refugee children.
The US also supports programs to help keep refugees safe and to protect their rights.
“This includes programs to keep children protected and to prevent and respond to instances of sexual or gender-based violence.” – Ms. Richard
In addition, of the $1 billion in U.S. aid provided since the crisis began, nearly half – $488 million – has come from funds appropriated to the Population, Refugees and Migration bureau.
Ms. Richard also discussed some of the ways in which the crisis is different this year than it was a year ago.
When it comes to number refugees, Ms. Richard notes more people have fled their homes in Syria than fled the genocide and its aftermath in Rwanda or the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.
The High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, earlier this month said “Syria has become the great tragedy of this century – a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history.”
Refugee crisis last year and today
According to Ms. Richard, the crisis has grown quickly with people forced to flee at an accelerating pace.
She reports that the number of refugees increased from 230,000 at the beginning of September last year to more than two million refugees today.
“They have poured across Syria’s borders into neighboring countries and even further afield and another four-to-five million are displaced inside Syria.” – Ms. Richard
US provides aid to Syria
In November 2012, the United States of America provided $30 million in additional humanitarian assistance to respond to the needs of Syrian people affected by the turmoil.
In Syria, the additional funding will allow for provision of food aid to families in need.
In neighboring countries, the additional assistance from the United States will provide food supplies, hot meals, and food vouchers for families who have fled the violence in Syria.
In addition, the additional assistance will be provided through the World Food Program (WFP), which is providing food aid to 1.5 million people in Syria and the refugees who have fled to neighboring countries.
The United States is the largest donor of food aid for those affected by the conflict in Syria through WFP.
In August 2012, with the violence engulfing Syria, the United States of America has announced an additional $12 million in humanitarian assistance, bringing the total amount of U.S. emergency aid to more than $76 million.
The U.S. government continues to place on ending the escalating violence which has uprooted hundreds of thousands of Syrians.
The humanitarian needs continue to grow whre the number of Syrians displaced to neighboring countries now exceeds 130,000, with nearly 1.5 million in need inside Syria, including UN-estimated one million internally displaced persons.
The Syrian violence has led a crisis on a humanitarian scale that is of the highest priority within the U.S. government, and for which the US pledges to continue to provide support.
In April 2012, with the deteriorating situation in Syria due to turmoil, the United States of America has bolstered efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to people affected by the conflict in the country.
The UN estimates that there are over 2 million Syrians inside Syria in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Of that number, it’s an estimated 300,000 internally displaced.
United States has dedicated some $33 million to support the important work to assist and protect those in need in Syria and neighboring countries, and much more is on the way.
The violence in Syria, which began in March 2011 as a protest movement similar to those witnessed across the Middle East and North Africa, has claimed over 120, 000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands.