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6 March 2013

Rather than scale down operations to ensure its money lasts longer, Ms. Cousin said she has decided to take the opposite approach. “I’ve said, ‘No, lean forward. Use every single dollar every month to feed as many people as we can access,’” she said. “And then, we continue to go to the donors and say, ‘You don’t want people to go hungry.’”


4 March 2013

Muhannad Hadi, the World Food Programme's regional emergency co-ordinator for Syria and neighbouring countries, said the British donation of armoured cars had already saved the lives of WFP staff delivering food aid on both sides of the lines. (..) The WFP currently supplies food to 1.5 million people in Syria in all 14 of the country's governorates, and in many parts of the country there are pockets with unknown populations which are beyond the agency's reach because of fighting.


1 March 2013

The plight of Syria’s refugees exemplifies a growing global problem. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) counts 15.2m (4.8m of them Palestinians, looked after by a different UN outfit), with an additional 26.4m displaced within their own lands. But hosts are increasingly unfriendly to refugees, and ever more unwilling to allow them to settle permanently. Conflicts are becoming more protracted. The old ways of dealing with people fleeing across borders, designed for smaller numbers and shorter stays, rarely work anymore. (..) Aid agencies have had to adapt. UNHCR sends text messages with information; the World Food Programme mails electronic grocery vouchers, which give recipients more choice and remove the need for costly distribution networks.


28 February 2013

The top United Nations refugee official told the Security Council on Wednesday that the number of registered Syrians who had fled their homeland for safety elsewhere in the region could surpass one million by next month — much sooner than expected — and that the Syrian conflict threatens to overwhelm the international response. (..) “We are facing a moment of truth in Syria,” the official, António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, told the Council. “The humanitarian situation is dramatic beyond description. The refugee crisis is accelerating at a staggering pace.” The other speakers were Valerie Amos, under secretary general and emergency relief coordinator, and Zainab Hawa Bangura, a former health minister of Sierra Leone, appointed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last year as the United Nations’ special representative on sexual violence in conflict.


27 February 2013

A senior official with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today warned of the enormous humanitarian impact of the ongoing Syria crisis, particularly on civilians who have been displaced and face threats such as gender-based violence. “This displacement is not only about loss of homes and economic security. It is also, for many, accompanied by gender-based crimes, deliberate victimization of women and children and a frightening array of assaults on human dignity,” the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Erika Feller, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.


25 February 2013

Quietly but inexorably, a human tide has crept into Lebanon, Syria’s smallest and most vulnerable neighbor. (..) The United Nations counts more than 305,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, but local officials and aid workers say the actual number is about 400,000, saturating this country of four million. The Lebanese government — by design — has largely left them to fend for themselves. Deeply divided over Syria, haunted by memories of an explosive refugee crisis a generation ago, it has mostly ignored the problem, dumping it on overwhelmed communities like Qaa. (..) Lebanon’s refugee crisis does not match the familiar image of vast, centralized tent camps and armies of foreign aid organizations. It is nowhere, and everywhere.


22 February 2013

A growing exodus to Jordan is leading to overcrowding in refugee facilities, a UN official warned on Thursday, calling for an “ambitious” plan to establish several emergency camps. “We are averaging 2,500 to 3,000 persons per night and we have to find accommodation for them,” said Andrew Harper, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) representative in Jordan. (..) Plans to open the country’s second camp and a third 50,000-capacity camp some 20 kilometres west of Azraq, have been undermined by an ongoing funding gap, with the UN reportedly receiving less than 20 per cent of a record $1.5 billion pledged by the international community last month.


21 February 2013

The numbers of Syrian refugees, particularly in Jordan and Lebanon are increasing in a dramatic fashion with Jordan receiving some 2,000 a day, according to David Kaatrud of the World Food Programme (WFP). As a result, the agency has begun scaling up its operations to meet the requirements for the summer and beyond. But he says there are resource constraints as the populations arrive in Jordan and Lebanon in large numbers and require food assistance while waiting to be registered.


21 February 2013

A few days ago (16 February) I took part in a joint UN mission to Karameh, in Syria's north-western Idleb Province, to deliver much needed relief supplies to thousands of displaced people. (..) Nearly 25,000 people - displaced from their homes by the on-going conflict in Syria - are estimated to be living in makeshift shelters in locations near the Turkish border, including Karameh, El Qah and Atmeh.


21 February 2013

Jordan is preparing to open the country’s third Syrian camp, officials said on Wednesday, in order to meet a refugee influx that has reached “historic” levels. According to Anmar Hmoud, Jordanian government spokesman for Syrian refugee affairs, authorities have begun preparations for a new Syrian refugee camp in order to meet a refugee flow that has reached an average of 2,500 persons per day. (..) The funding gap has lead to repeated delays in the opening of the country’s second camp at Mreijeeb — with officials now hoping to open the 30,000-capacity facility next month.