UNHCR eyes ‘robust pledge’ at Kuwait donor confab on Syria Moumtzis visits IPI headquarters

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 18, (KUNA): Panos Moumtzis, the regional refugee coordinator for Syrian refugees, late Thursday sounded the alarm at the humanitarian situation in Syria — “the fastest growing humanitarian disaster in the world” — and expressed hope to see a “robust pledge” at the upcoming international donor conference to be held in Kuwait later this month.

“On the 30th of January, there is going to be a pledging conference in Kuwait. We very much hope to see a robust pledge and support from donor countries around the world, because the crisis is such that we cannot wait. We have to be able to respond and provide the urgently needed life-saving assistance,” Moumtzis told the International Peace Institute (IPI) during a visit to the institute headquarters.

The Institute invited the UN official to highlight the current and future challenges facing humanitarian actors and governments alike in coordinating and delivering aid to 642,000 refugees, 75 percent of them women, and mainly children, scattered across Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt.

The financial support is really crucial he said. “We feel as humanitarian agencies that there is a huge political interest on the Syria situation. At the same time, we feel that the financial support is not there yet. We urgently need to have the assistance needed.” “It is extremely important that the international community shows its solidarity to the neighbouring countries by providing the necessary support. We cannot take the (generosity of) neighbouring countries for granted,” he argued.

“We really consider the Syrian humanitarian situation as one of the most complex and dangerous operations in the world, because the risk of a regional expansion of the conflict is very real,” he warned, adding that the Syrian humanitarian situation at the moment is the “fastest growing humanitarian regional disaster in the world.” He said the agency put a plan to assist four million people inside Syria, including two million displaced internally, and 1.1 million refugees from now until end of June, and, in the worst case scenario, 1.8 million, which brings the total to over five million people, or a quarter of the Syrian population.
“One in four Syrians is in need of humanitarian assistance, and I am afraid this number is increasing by the day as the level of security in Syria deteriorates,” he said, adding that the agency receives 3,000 refugees daily.
He noted that the December 19 UN appeal of $1.5 billion — half a billion to help Syrians inside the country and one billion to assist neighbouring countries, is “the largest humanitarian appeal ever presented to cover their needs.” He commended the neighouring countries for keeping their borders open, especially Turkey which hosts 230,000 refugees and “showed tremendous generosity by providing ‘five star plus camps’ with three hot meals a day, hot water and washing machines.” “Clearly, the humanitarian response that we are providing is not the solution. What is really needed for this crisis is a political solution,” he said with frustration.


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