U.N. Seeks $1.5 Billion for Refugees from Syria

By Nick Cumming-Bruce; Rick Gladstone | International Herald Tribune, December 20, 2012 | Go to article overview

U.N. Seeks $1.5 Billion for Refugees from Syria


Nick Cumming-Bruce; Rick Gladstone, International Herald Tribune


The agency also predicted that the number of refugees fleeing the conflict would double to more than one million in the next six months.

The United Nations on Wednesday appealed for $1.5 billion in new aid to handle the steadily worsening humanitarian crisis created by spiraling violence in Syria, and predicted that the number of refugees fleeing the conflict would double to more than one million in the next six months.

The increased refugee estimate represents at least the fourth time that the United Nations has revised its projections upward on refugees in the nearly two-year-old uprising against the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. It has turned into a civil war that has left at least 40,000 people dead and has threatened to destabilize the Middle East.

Meeting representatives of donor governments in Geneva, U.N. agencies said they were seeking $1 billion to assist Syrian refugees in five neighboring countries and a further $519 million to provide emergency aid to four million people inside Syria over the same period. There are 20.8 million people living in Syria, according to the World Bank.

"This massive humanitarian crisis requires urgent support from governments, businesses and private individuals," Panos Moumtzis, the U.N. regional coordinator for Syrian refugees, said in a statement. "Unless these funds come quickly, we will not be able to fully respond to the lifesaving needs of civilians who flee Syria every hour of the day -- many in a truly desperate condition."

More than 525,000 Syrians have now registered as refugees, the U.N. refugee agency reported, about double the number it had recorded in early September. These refugees include about 160,000 in Lebanon, 150,000 in Jordan, 140,000 in Turkey and more than 65,000 in Iraq. The agency also included Egypt for the first time as a sanctuary for fleeing Syrians, reporting that more than 10,000 had registered there.

The refugee agency now expects the number to double again within the next six months, Mr. Moumtzis said.

He based that forecast on current trends in the conflict, with 2,000 to 3,000 Syrians crossing into neighboring countries every day. …

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