According to the WHO, more than 11 million people inside Syria are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Yet even as humanitarian and medical aid agencies are becoming more efficient in delivering their aid, funding gaps are becoming even more drastic.
**Current Funding Gap
The Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO), put out by the United Nations (UN), is the most comprehensive assessment of the world’s humanitarian needs. This year, it released the largest funding appeal in the history of the UN, but still only addresses the needs of 91 million of the world’s 135.7 million refugees.
Fundraising targets are continuing to fall short of targets. This issue is most acute in Lebanon and Jordan who host the highest and second-highest share of Syrian refugees as a percentage of their population. UNHCR reports that Jordan has received 21% of its initial fundraising targets, while Lebanon has received only 12%.
UNICEF appealed to donors in 2017 for $1.4 billion for emergency operations inside Syria, as well as for programs in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. By June 2017, only 25% of this funding actually came through.
In 2018, humanitarian organizations increased their fundraising targets to adjust for growing humanitarian needs. Humanitarian organizations asked donors for $5.6 billion in 2018 to support roughly 5.5 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries as well as an additional 4 million nationals from hosts countries. However, halfway through the year, less than 22% of that funding has been collected.
The Cost of Cutting Funds
Without the rest of these funds, a number of humanitarian and medical services for Syrian citizens and refugees are continually at risk of being cut off completely. This includes safe water and sanitation, access to healthcare and essential nutrition treatments for children, distribution of clothing and blankets in the winter months, and cash assistance for families that keeps kids in school.
Financial resources within host countries have already begun to wane, making Syrian refugees in particular entirely depending on international assistance. As donations for these programs also fall far short of the need, millions are stuck in increasingly dire situations.
Impacting Lives Today
The Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan (3RP), which supports Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, is already falling behind on cash assistance and health services because of lack of funding. More than 200 partners in the 3RP have called on the international community to deliver on their pledges.
If funds are not donated soon, 130,000 families will lose cash assistance immediately; monthly food vouchers are likely to disappear altogether; water and sanitation services will be in jeopardy; and up to 1.7 million people will face winter without fuel, shelter, insulation or proper clothing. All of which have severe health consequences will be exacerbated by further funding gaps in Syrian health programs. The WHO’s health response inside Syria is currently being funded at only 16%.
Looking to the Future
Now more than ever, individual, foundation, and government support is vital to ensure lifesaving medical care is accessible to all. According to a 2018 WHO press release, more than half Syria’s hospitals and medical facilities have been closed or only partially functioning, over 11 million people need medical services, which includes 3 million individuals living with injuries and disabilities. These numbers do not even account for the over 5.5 million Syrians displaced into neighboring countries.
SAMS believes in providing quality, life saving medical services to those within Syria, neighboring countries, and abroad. But without funding support, SAMS like other aid organizations will be forced to narrow their scope.
The conflict in Syria remains the largest population displacement since World War II, which took years of international cooperation and billions of dollars to recovery. The UN’s latest appeal is no idle number generated to increase its activities; it is the bare minimum needed to provide lifesaving care and resources to those in greatest need today.