SYRIA: OCHA warns of funding shortfall

16 July, 2012
OCHA Operations Director John Ging at the Syrian Humanitarian Forum, Geneva, 16 July 2012. Credit: UNOG/Jean-Marc Ferré
OCHA Operations Director John Ging at the Syrian Humanitarian Forum, Geneva, 16 July 2012. Credit: UNOG/Jean-Marc Ferré

The humanitarian response for Syria is facing a critical shortage of funds, OCHA’s Director of Operations, John Ging, said on Monday. Mr. Ging called on the donor community to scale up contributions to enable aid agencies to help those affected by the escalating crisis.

“If we don’t get more money, people will die and there will be more humanitarian suffering. The needs will continue to grow as long as this conflict continues – that is a sad and tragic truth,” said Mr. Ging.

To date, the $189 million appeal for assistance for the response inside Syria is 20 per cent funded, while the $193 million appeal for the response to assist refugees in Turkey, Lebanon Jordan and Iraq is also 20 per cent funded.

“To enable humanitarian action in an incredibly difficult, dangerous environment, funding is now the number one priority in terms of unlocking a bigger humanitarian response. That’s both for inside Syria and also for the regional refugee response,” Mr. Ging told reporters in Geneva following the fourth meeting of the Syrian Humanitarian Forum.

The forum brought together over 350 participants from Member States, regional organizations, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN humanitarian agencies to mobilize the necessary resources to provide assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people uprooted by the conflict in Syria.

“We came together today in the face of an escalating conflict, which is having the predictable devastating humanitarian and human impact,” said Mr. Ging, who added that insecurity, political obstruction and capacity issues remained major obstacles to the full implementation of the humanitarian response plan.

He noted that there has been a “significant” scale-up of assistance over the last month, from 500,000 people provided with food assistance last month to an expected 850,000 people this month, but despite the increase, the situation is deteriorating.

“In spite of the scale-up, the gap between the needs and the means is very much still there,” he said.

 “We have to be prepared, sadly, for a bigger demand on us collectively as this conflict continues. And we must be motivated by the plight of the Syrian people,” Mr. Ging said.

Mr. Ging thanked countries hosting Syrian refugees for keeping their borders open, and the seven principal donors who he said had been generous so far, but added that it was vital to broaden the donor base.