With the announcement of an additional influx of funding, the U.S. has now dedicated over $1 billion to help the victims of Syria’s three year-long civil war.
A new $195 million — timed to line-up with the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr — will be donated to the coffers of the relief effort for Syrian civilians displaced by the fighting between the government of Bashar al-Assad and the rebel forces that have been trying to topple him for years. According to the press release issued from the State Department, $155 million will go to “increase food assistance, expand life-saving emergency medical capacity, and provide additional hygiene kits, clothing, and household supplies in Syria.” The other $41 million will go to the neighboring countries — including Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt — playing host to hundreds of thousands of refugees within their borders, buying “food vouchers, in-kind food distributions, and ready-to-eat meals.”
Interestingly enough, the funding for those displaced within Syria also includes money for gender-based violence response services. This will include “referral through women’s health centers, mobile clinics, and outreach teams providing health and psychosocial services in Syria, including home-based support to vulnerable women and children.” Sexual violence is an often overlooked part of the conflict in Syria, which often goes underreported due to societal norms and fear of reprisal.
Despite the surge in aid from the United States, the United Nations’ efforts to provide for the refugees of the Syrian crisis remains chronically underfunded. To date, nearly two million refugees have registered with the U.N. High Commission on Refugees, with thousands more likely living unregistered among relatives and friends in the neighboring states. “We have not seen a refugee outflow escalate at such a frightening rate since the Rwandan genocide almost 20 years ago,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said last month, warning that Jordan may see more than one million refugees by the end of the year.