It’s been a particularly harsh winter in the Middle East. Bitterly cold temperatures, sleet, heavy winter rains, strong winds and record snowfalls have combined to make the season a misery for refugees fleeing the violence in Syria.
Syria is considered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises in recent memory. Since the civil war began nearly 4 years ago, 3.8 million Syrians have taken refuge in neighboring countries, while 7.6 million have been displaced within their country.
According to a United Nations report published on January 31st, since the violence began in March 2011, the increase of humanitarian needs in Syria has outpaced funding support by six-fold. In fact, over the past three years, the number of Syrians in need of aid has risen from one million to 12.2 million, more than half of Syria’s pre-war population. During the same time period, funding has not increased proportionately, rising from 215 million in 2012 to 1 billion dollars by the end of 2014, but meeting less than 50 percent of needs.
The United States remains committed to supporting the victims of violence around the world. The United States is the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian response, providing more than $3 billion since the start of the conflict. This includes funds to help millions of people--both inside and outside Syria--receive food, urgent medical care, and supplies needed to survive the winter, such as shelters, extra blankets, warm clothing and heating fuel.
In mid-February, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, Kelly Clements, announced that the United States will contribute another $125 million for emergency food aid to the United Nations World Food Program, which is feeding 6 million people.
"We will continue working through all possible channels to provide aid to those in need wherever they reside," said Deputy Assistant Secretary Clements. But the "dire situation facing Syrians requires an urgent collective response," she added.
“The United States plans to substantially increase its financial commitment to the Syrian humanitarian response,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Clements, “and we call on other governments to do the same.”