SEATTLE — According to a report by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of Syrian immigrants has grown significantly, as well as the poverty of Syrian refugees. While 200 nations, U.N. agencies and international aid groups have been working throughout the six-year-long Migrant Crisis to help refugees, a large number of refugees still do not have access to basic services required for their daily life.
The 2016 mid-year report by the UNHCR’s Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan focuses on 4.8 million Syrian refugees who have fled to five neighboring host countries: Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt.
In 2016, while funding from local governments and agencies increased to $1.4 billion from $1 billion in 2015, the number of refugees increased from 4 million to 4.8 million, stretching resources thin. Based on the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan, 13.5 million people are in need — 6 million are children and 6.5 million are internally displaced.
According to Leo Dobbs, the UNCHR spokesperson, the living conditions in all host countries have become difficult for the Syrian refugees. In Lebanon, the number of people who live below the poverty line has increased from 50 percent in 2014 to 70 percent. The average refugee household debt has also increased.
Furthermore, in Jordan, the poverty of Syrian refugees is at 90 percent and 67 percent of families live in debt. In Egypt, 62,000 Syrians are found living below the poverty line.
In Turkey, nearly 2,745,000 Syrians were registered in the country — close to 262,000 of whom lived in refugee camps. This was an increase of more than 240,000 refugees from 2015.
In Iraq, lack of funding is making it difficult to meet the growing needs of refugees. For instance, the country’s building sector is not able to meet the immense demands of people who live on and outside of camps, including building suitable dwelling systems and community infrastructure support.
Social welfare institutions in these countries are in the hard position of delivering basic needs and services to the growing group of refugees, but success has been made. The report finds that the plan’s partners have contributed to reducing the poverty of Syrian refugees by delivering cash aid to over 100,000 households, food to over 2 million people, providing medical care to over 1 million, and helping over 5,600 refugees find jobs.
Dobbs warns that the host countries’ scarcity of resources leads to risks such as work and sex exploitation, which are highly correlated with growing poverty. He insists that “one of the more striking things of concern to us is the spectre of poverty hanging over the Syrian refugee populations and host communities.”
Hence, the report focuses on the importance of donors and requests multi-year funding in order to aid greater planning efforts and ensure the success of long-term established goals.
The good news is that Jordan and Turkey are working to integrate refugees into their workforce. Jordan is introducing a plan to employ up to 150,000 Syrians by 2018, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is introducing a form of regulation that will permit Syrian refugees to work in Turkey.
While it is estimated that the requirements for 2017 consist of almost $3 billion, depending on the evolution of the situation, the report is designated to encourage the donors to further expand their funding allocations. UNCHR warns that greater funding from both governments and non-governmental organizations are needed to meet the long term needs of Syrian refugees.
– Eliza Karampetian-Nikotian