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UAE aid for Syria tops Dh306 million in over two years

posted on 16/01/2014: 1513 views

UN statistics put the number of the Syrian refugees at 2.34 million in neighbouring countries, with more than 9 million in need of urgent assistance.

World Food Programme fears 6.5m in Syria may be suffering from food shortages.

The UAE has stepped up its humanitarian efforts for people displaced by the conflict in Syria, with an increase of Dh254.68 million last year over Dh52 million in 2012.

Minister of International Cooperation and Development Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, while releasing the figures ahead of a United Nations donor conference in Kuwait, said the government was the largest contributor to the cause, providing Dh206 million worth of aid over two years.

Shaikha Lubna said the directives of the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, have galvanised the government and people of the country to help the suffering civilians in Syria.

One of the first countries which responded to the crisis in Syria, now into its third year, the UAE's assistance has covered relief materials, food, medical facilities and establishing camps for refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, and also for internally displaced persons over the last two years.

UN statistics put the number of the Syrian refugees at 2.34 million in neighbouring countries, with more than nine million in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

The World Food Programme said it is concerned that up to 6.5 million people inside Syria might be severely food insecure and cannot afford to buy food due to the conflict. ‘‘The highest levels of poverty are believed to be in Al Hassakeh, Daraa, rural Damascus, and Hama. This could be the result of shortages of some food commodities or rising prices. We are gravely concerned about the situation of civilians who have stayed behind in hotspots or living under siege who could be the most affected,'' said Laure Chadraoui, a WFP official.

The UN agency is appealing for close to US$2 billion to assist over seven million Syrians in urgent need of food assistance in 2014. These include 4.25 million people inside Syria and over 2.9 million refugees in neighbouring countries in need of food, making this WFP's most challenging, complex and largest emergency worldwide.

Chadraoui said the WFP needs to raise US$35 million every week to meet the food needs of people affected by the conflict.

She said the closure of the Damascus-Homs Highway resulted in significant delays in sending food to Homs and Hama Governorates. ‘‘WFP had to use alternate and longer routes to deliver food in hard-to-reach areas. In some cases, food trucks had to be re-routed over the Lebanese border and then back into Syria, to reach some of these areas,'' she said.

The WFP official said there are plans to increase the monthly food ration to provide up to 1,920 kilocalories per person per day. ‘‘Recent assessments have shown that pregnant and lactating women in Syria are becoming increasingly vulnerable as their access to health services diminish and their limited resources prevent them from acquiring adequate nutrition.”

A school feeding programme has been scheduled for February targeting 350,000 Syrian children in areas where access to education has been worst affected by the crisis, the official revealed. – Khaleej Times


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