Protesters in Syria are still being intimidated and murdered by government forces. The status of thousands of detainees remains unclear. And it is estimated that one million civilians are still in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Of that number the UN estimates that 300,000 are internally displaced. Sixty-six thousand displaced Syrians are in neighboring countries. In addition, inside Syria, 500,000 Palestinian refugees and a hundred thousand Iraqi refugees are feeling the effects of the violence.
The United States has dedicated some $33 million to support the important work being done to assist and protect those in need in Syria and neighboring countries. By working through international and nongovernmental organizations, U.S. government contributions tap into the infrastructure these organizations already had in place in Syria before the conflict started.
The United States funding for food, clean water, basic healthcare, medical and other emergency relief supplies has benefited more than 400,000 people in Syria and neighboring countries so far. The World Food Program, or WFP, has been helping to reach a hundred thousand people per month in some of the most conflict affected cities and zones since this conflict began. Working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, WFP has expanded its emergency food assistance to reach 250,000 affected Syrians in 12 of the 14 provinces in Syria.
Nevertheless, current humanitarian access restrictions remain a significant challenge to the aid effort. After months of working under these conditions, the aid organizations working in Syria are extremely stretched. To continue alleviating suffering and saving lives, they need more support and capacity from the international community.
The United States continues to call on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad to allow the UN and its partners to expand humanitarian operations as soon as possible. It’s critical that humanitarian aid workers have safe, regular, unhindered access to provide lifesaving aid and emergency relief to those in need.