As the number of Syrian refugees passes three million today, international aid organisation CARE Australia said that every 13 seconds a Syrian becomes a refugee.
Adam Poulter, head of CARE’s Humanitarian and Emergency Response Unit, said CARE had secured less than 25 per cent of the $200 million it needs to provide assistance to Syrian refugees.
‘The registration of the three millionth Syrian refugee must be a wake-up call for the international community. Each day that passes without more funding means more refugees will fall deeper and deeper into poverty,’ he added.
Since the conflict started more than three years ago, three million people have fled Syria for neighbouring countries including Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. There are 10.8 million people inside Syria in need of humanitarian assistance and a further 6.5 million, half of whom are children, who have sought shelter and safety elsewhere within the country.
Mr Poulter said that the Syria Needs Analysis Project (SNAP) estimates that the actual number of Syrian refugees in the region has almost reached a staggering four million, but that not all have registered with the United Nations. According to this figure, one in five Syrians has already left the country.
‘Female refugees, especially those fleeing Syria without their husbands, are particularly vulnerable. Women usually prioritise the health and wellbeing of their families over their own, and are often the last ones to ask for health or psychological support. Families are living in unfinished houses, work sites or tents. They have no money to buy food, to pay for medication and they cannot cover the cost of sending their children to school. Most refugees fled with nothing but the clothes they were wearing and some savings, but after months and sometimes years of being a refugee, they have nothing left,’ he added.
CARE is providing cash assistance to refugee families to cover basic living costs including rent, food and essential items such as clothing and heating during the winter months. CARE’s refugee and community centres are also providing refugees with vital information on how to access further healthcare and social support as well as counselling to help them cope with the impact of fleeing their homes.
‘CARE and other aid agencies are already stretched trying to respond to the food crisis in South Sudan and in Gaza. As the three millionth registered Syrian refugee arrives, we are calling on the public and donor countries to support aid agencies like CARE. A donation of $140 to our Syrian refugee crisis appeal can feed an entire family for a month,’ Mr Poulter added.