The United Nations gave its starkest warning yet on Friday that it would soon run out of cash to cope with the vast influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan and other neighboring countries.
“The needs are rising exponentially, and we are broke,” Marixie Mercado, spokeswoman for the U.N. Children’s Fund UNICEF, told a U.N. news conference in Geneva.
The number of people fleeing in the world’s worst refugee crisis has repeatedly outrun the U.N.’s expectations. The 1.25 million refugees, three-quarters of them women and children, is 10 percent higher than had been expected by June.
With more than 3.6 million people internally displaced within Syria and no end to the two-year conflict in sight, there is every chance that the exodus could keep growing.
“Since the beginning of the year, more than 2,000 refugees have streamed across the borders [into Jordan] every day. We expect these numbers to more than double by July and triple by December,” Mercado said.
“By the end of 2013, we estimate there will be 1.2 million Syrian refugees in Jordan - equivalent to about one-fifth of Jordan’s population.”
The impact of funding drying up would include a halt in 3.5 million liters of daily water deliveries to Jordan’s Zaatari camp, which houses more than 100,000 refugees, mostly children.
Almost 11,000 Syrians have arrived in Zaatari in the past week, the International Organization for Migration said.
U.N. officials said the funding shortage was affecting the whole region, not just Jordan, and all humanitarian agencies.
While the humanitarian agencies have so far managed to prevent major health problems among the refugees, policing the huge and growing population is becoming more difficult.
The U.N. refugee agency the UNHCR has reported multiple demonstrations at Zaatari at the end of March due to a shortage of buses to take refugees back to Syria, people “frequently” trying to smuggle items out of the camp, and violence over the distribution of new caravans.
The other countries hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees are Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
Most of the displaced people within Syria are in northern and central areas rather than the southern regions close to Jordan, according to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the main humanitarian agency on the ground. Fighting in Raqqa province recently drove 35,000 into Deir Ezzor on a single day, it said.
Figures from the UNHCR show the biggest donors so far in 2013 are the United States, European Union and Japan. The UNHCR has received $162 million, one-third of the $494 million it needs for the first half of this year.
China has donated $1 million, earmarked for refugees in Turkey. Russia does not appear on the list of donors to the UNHCR.
“So far very little has come in,” Mercado said. “We are doing a lot, we are doing an enormous amount. But the needs are just extraordinary. And they are growing every day.”
Syria’s Barzeh in flames after barrage of rocketsSyrian regime forces opened a barrage of rockets into the district of Barzeh, northeast of Damascus, killing at least five people and trapping others ... Middle East
Iranian soldiers are fighting alongside Assad army: captured soldier tells Al ArabiyaA man, who is reportedly an Iranian officer in the custody of the rebel Free Syrian Army, spoke to Al Arabiya Thursday and said he used to train ... News
‘We don’t collaborate with the oppressive Assad regime’: Kurdish military groupThe Kurdish Protection Group (HPG) is considered by some Syrians to be the military arm of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, operating in Syria. An ... Features
Tammam Salam builds consensus to be Lebanon’s new prime ministerTammam Salam, a former minister from a prominent Sunni Muslim political dynasty, emerged on Friday as a consensus candidate to take over as ... Middle East
Israel denies link with arms ship seized by EgyptIsrael’s government on Friday strenuously denied it had any link to an arms-laden ship that Egypt said its navy seized as it sailed from the ... Middle East
Kidnap threat stalks SyriansSyria’s residents, already terrorized by a conflict now in its third year, are also being stalked by the increasing threat of kidnap, with ... Analysis