Humanitarian disaster continues with no sign of abating
Edinburgh-based aid group Mercy Corps has hit out at the “woeful” international response to the Syrian crisis as it marks 10 years of conflict.
The charity said pledges made at a virtual conference in Brussells this week fall well short of what is needed to support the population in the long-running humanitarian crisis in the region.
Nine out of 10 Syrians live in poverty, and more than 12.4 million do not have enough food to eat. Families are burning furniture for heat and trading food for medicine while farmers have sold the equipment that would till next year’s crops to buy food.
Rafael Velasquez, Mercy Corps Country Director in Lebanon, added: “The deterioration of the social and economic situation in Lebanon is exacerbating the vulnerabilities and needs of both local communities and refugees.
“As Lebanese themselves face near-collapse of their economy and state, Syrians hosted in Lebanon live in the most abject and miserable conditions. Nine out of ten Syrian refugee families in Lebanon live in extreme poverty.
“Lebanon is heading towards more social unrest and political instability. The rising competition for survival is fuelling tensions. Relations between displaced and host communities are at its lowest, unemployment has surged past 30% and crime is on the rise. Increased attention to livelihoods support and social stability programming needs to be prioritised.
“Should returns to Syria be considered, they must be safe, voluntary, dignified and based on informed choice, specific to the circumstances of individual families.
“Funding must also be available to support refugees remaining in Lebanon, along with the generous Lebanese host communities.”
Kari Diener, Mercy Corps country director in Jordan, said: “There is no long-term planning for refugees residing in camps in Jordan. We must make a plan to chart a path for refugee self-reliance in Jordan, and as the funding drops precipitously, we need that plan now.
“Thankfully, Jordan is fully including refugees in its COVID-19 health response, an important acknowledgment of the interconnectedness of Syrians and Jordanians.”