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7 March 2013

Two years after nationwide protests sparked upheaval in Syria, the ensuing refugee crisis has reached one million people. Far from slowing down, the number of refugees has almost doubled in the past three months alone. Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has warned that the "humanitarian response capacity is dangerously stretched". As registration remains difficult, data collection has become a "top priority" for the UN, meaning that the 1 million mark may be an underestimate.


6 March 2013

The relentless exodus of Syrians fleeing two years of increasingly violent conflict pushed the number of refugees in neighboring countries passed the million mark on Wednesday, the United Nations Refugee agency said, warning that resources for helping them are dangerously thin. (..) An additional worry for relief agencies is that the funding received from donors has failed to keep pace with the accelerating scale of refugee needs.


6 March 2013

"The food situation countrywide is getting worse," said Muhannad Hadi, WFP Regional Emergency Coordinator for Syria and neighbouring countries. (..) The WFP has not been able to establish the total number of Syrians needing food aid because it has been unable to gain access to all parts of the country, Hadi said. (..) Asked if he was confident aid was being evenly distributed between government- and rebel-held areas, Hadi said almost half the WFP food aid went to Syrians in opposition areas. "We work in both government and non-government controlled areas. We cross lines within Syria," Hadi said.


6 March 2013

The World Food Program will run out of money to provide displaced Syrians with food in the coming months unless Canada and other international donors step in to help, the organization’s top executive says. (..) Ertharin Cousin, who met Tuesday with International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino, said the organization is ramping up its services as needs in Syria grow.


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.