The United Nations doubled its appeal for aid funds on Thursday to help thousands of refugees fleeing the violence in Syria, the majority of whom are women and children.
“Around 75 percent of Syrian refugees are women and children. Most are entirely dependent on life-saving humanitarian assistance,” said Panos Moumtzis of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
At $193.1 million, the amount sought is more than twice what was asked for in March.
That reflects the fact that the number of refugees seeking shelter in neighbouring countries has also doubled since then to 96,000, Moumtzis told reporters in Geneva.
By the end of the year, 185,000 people are likely to need help, he said.
At the moment the appeal — hosted by the UNHCR on behalf of 44 agencies — is only 26 percent funded.
The need for money is urgent, since increasing numbers of refugees are coming forward to seek help, “arriving with nothing but their clothes” in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, said Moumtzis.
He added that it was crucial the international community contributed to the appeal to relieve the burden on communities in neighbouring states which welcomed the refugees.
“It is heartbreaking meeting these host families who can barely make ends meet,” he said.
“Financial support is crucial to show solidarity to hosting neighbouring countries who have opened schools, clinics infrastructure to host Syrian refugees.”
The World Food Programme (WFP) described the refugees’ position as increasingly dramatic even though host countries were continuing to accept new arrivals.
“Their situation has become more vulnerable in host countries. What little cash they had is over and they need our help,” said the WFP’s Daly Belgasmi.
Within Syria, the WFP estimates that one million people need humanitarian assistance, of which 850,000 require food aid.
From July, the organisation plans to extend its aid effort to reach all of them, in collaboration with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, by providing daily food baskets.