UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations may have to curtail humanitarian operations in Syria unless new funds are raised at a key donors’ meeting on Monday, officials warned.
UN agencies will this month step up their food aid to reach 850,000 people in the conflict-stricken country even though it has only received promises for one fifth of a $189 million appeal.
A separate $193 million dollar appeal for Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries is also 80% underfunded.
The UN will tell a Syria Humanitarian Forum meeting in Geneva on Monday how much longer they can keep operating in Syria with the current funds available.
“We will communicate the needs very clearly. The appeals are only 20% funded at the moment,” said John Ging, operations director for the UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Up to now the money for the Syria fund has come from the United States, European Union, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Canada.
“That donor base has to be expanded, otherwise we will not be able to continue our delivery and our scale-up,” Ging told reporters.
In April, the UN was helping 200,000 people, in June this rose to 500,000 people and this month it will reach 850,000 people as aid agencies refine their operations, Ging said.
“We have used the terminology ‘appalling’, ‘desperate’ and ‘deplorable’. We have run out of language to describe how it is for the civilian population. It is physical and it is psychological,” Ging, who will chair Monday’s meeting, told reporters.
A senior UN humanitarian official said that if more money is not offered, people will die in Syria. Activists say more than 17,000 people have already been killed in the conflict.
“If the money doesn’t come lives will be lost and the suffering will accelerate,” the senior official said on condition of anonymity.
The Syrian government has eased some of the obstacles it had placed on humanitarian deliveries and eight non-government agencies are now able to work in the country where President Bashar al-Assad is fighting off an increasingly bitter uprising.
Aid is mainly delivered through the Syrian Red Crescent, which has seen five workers killed since the start of the conflict in March last year.
The senior official said that aid was now getting to every province in Syria though not in regular amounts.
The UN has estimated that more than one million Syrians are now affected by the conflict and the official said the number is growing as the fighting worsens.
The United Nations is also concerned that Syria’s wheat harvest this year is likely to be cut to two million tonnes, below the 3.6 million tonnes the country needs, the official said.
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