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Syria: Funding urgently needed to replenish depleted humanitarian fund

26 Apr 2018


Credit: OCHA/G.Seifo

The Syria Humanitarian Fund (SHF), which has enabled UN agencies and national and international partners to bring desperately needed relief to over 92,000 people, is now depleted of funds. These funds are critical for providing vital humanitarian aid, but the humanitarian community is facing a significant funding gap of US$95 million.

To date, the fund has allocated more than $10 million to 21 life-saving projects. Fifty-one per cent of those projects focused on responding to people’s most urgent needs in East Ghouta. However, the Syria Humanitarian Fund is now depleted.

For six long years, hundreds of thousands of people endured a tightening siege on east Ghouta. People were unable to go in to or out of the enclave through formal routes, and commercial goods and humanitarian aid were only able to enter sporadically. Some inter-agency convoys managed to cross conflict lines and bring humanitarian assistance, but people were regularly forced to survive with what little they had.

Credit: OCHA/L.Tom

Fighting in East Ghouta intensified this year. Since 8 March, some 150,000 people from that area were evacuated to internally displaced people’s sites in rural Damascus, and to Aleppo and Idleb, in Syria’s north-west. As of 11 April, more than 46,500 people displaced from East Ghouta remain in several sites around Damascus. Many of them have left with almost nothing and are struggling to rebuild their lives.

Sites providing shelter to displaced people from East Ghouta are overcrowded and lack appropriate infrastructure to accommodate the large number of arrivals. With thousands of people still in East Ghouta, where the control shifted, and the influx of people expected to leave Duma in the coming days, an urgent scale up in response is needed. But it comes at a time when the SHF is depleted.

These are the stories of just some of the affected Syrians who won’t receive desperately needed aid unless more funding is received.

Salah had to be medically evacuated from Ghouta. Today he lives in Harjalleh site. Credit: OCHA/G.Seifo

Salah, 31 years old, was hit by a mortar in the Jaramana suburb of Damascus in 2012. Unable to pay his rent, he moved his family to Ain Tarma in East Ghouta, which soon became besieged. Two years ago, he was medically evacuated to Damascus to receive urgent treatment before returning to east Ghouta. Today he lives in the Harjalleh site, and like many others, he tries to earn a living by buying and selling small items to support his mother, sister, wife and two children.

In Harjalleh site, people live in overcrowded spaces and often resort to sell their few belongings to make a living. Credit: OCHA/G.Seifo

Abu Mohamed, 64 years old, has also been displaced. “Several times a year, I was able to travel back and forth from east Ghouta to Damascus through a system of tunnels in order to collect my pension,” he said. His small Government pension sustained him and his family of 14, until they were evacuated with the rest of his family to the Harjalleh site, where they now live.

Like him, many have no alternatives but staying in this site. “In east Ghouta, we adults worked as gardeners, planting and tending to vegetables to earn a bit of money,” Um Fadi, 26 years old and a mother of four tells us. Her husband lost his arm when he was hit by shrapnel on the doorstep of his home in Kafr Batna, east Ghouta, four years ago.she said. “With close to no resources, we cannot afford to move out of the site and our only hope is to return home”.

Credit: OCHA/G.Seifo

A general practitioner at the medical point in the Harjalleh site said she saw at least 350 patients a day. The gynecologist saw close to 100 women a day. The medical point is providing essential medicines and vitamins while running vaccination campaigns. But despite their best efforts, medical staff are limited in the procedures they can offer due to a shortage of supplies.