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U.S. Seeks to Alleviate Syrian Humanitarian Crisis

Amjad Al-Saleh, and family fled their home in Marea due to Syrian government shelling at their house.
Amjad Al-Saleh, and family fled their home in Marea due to Syrian government shelling at their house.

U.S. has announced an additional $21 million to the UN World Food Program.

It’s been almost 18 months since the regime of Bashar al Assad began its bloody assault on the Syrian people. The conflict began after peaceful anti-government demonstrations in March 2011 were met with brutal and increasingly escalating force by government troops.

Close to 23,000 people have been killed; more than 245,000 have fled to neighboring countries – - 100,000 during the month of August alone. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that as many as 2.5 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance; 1.2 million have been internally displaced.

The United States has commended the generosity of Syria’s neighbors – especially Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon – for their assistance to the almost a quarter million Syrians who have poured across borders to escape the onslaught of the Syrian regime’s troops, tanks, planes, and artillery. But the capacities of Syria’s neighbors which are hosting the refugees are being gravely stretched.

To help with the humanitarian crisis, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Dr. Rajiv Shah, has announced that the United States is providing an additional $21 million to the UN World Food Program. Of this new funding, $14.5 million will provide food assistance to conflict-affected people inside Syria and $6.7 million to support Syrians displaced to neighboring countries.

This brings to $100 million the amount the U.S. has provided so far for humanitarian activities both inside Syria and in neighboring countries. In addition to food, the money is used for emergency medical care, relief items -- such as blankets, hygiene and kitchen sets -- as well as humanitarian coordination and logistics support to relief agencies.

Speaking at the Za’atri desert refugee camp in Jordan, which is now housing over 26,000 Syrians who have fled the violence in their own country, Dr. Shah noted that the United States is proud to be the largest international partner that has responded to the United Nations’ call for humanitarian assistance to Syria’s refugees.

“We call on other partners all around the world,” he said, “to stand with the governments and people of Turkey and Jordan and other neighboring countries that have put a tremendous amount of energy, resources, and generosity into protecting and supporting the needs of Syrian refugees. And again, we call on the Assad regime to end its brutal treatment of its people, because that's what is causing this crisis to begin with.”