Middle East neighbours shamed into helping Syrian refugees

Aid fund increases after Independent on Sunday investigation, but refugees still need food and medical supplies

The significant shortfall in the funds for two United Nations aid appeals for Syria has dramatically changed since The Independent on Sunday revealed that Syria's Middle East neighbours had failed to deliver on promises made in Kuwait in January.

Last month around only 20 per cent of a promised $1.6bn (£1.1bn) had been handed to the two funds, one for refugees inside Syria and the other for the growing number of refugees living in camps in neighbouring states.

Pressure from aid agencies, the UN and the media over the shortfall appears to have now produced a dramatic turnaround. According to the latest UN figures, 65 per cent of the aid target for relief work inside Syria has been collected; refugee funding for aid outside Syria has now reached 73 per cent of the agreed target. The combined figures still leave the UN $474m short. However, the prospect of the UN now being able to gather all of the aid funds promised will ease the immediate crisis.

But the growing numbers still fleeing Syria – and new camps already operating at breaking point – mean new appeals by the UNHCR and the World Food Programme are already being worked on. Aid is urgently needed as the situation, both for those inside the camps and for those trying to reach them, seems to be deteriorating. Thousands of refugees stranded near the closed border with Jordan are running out of food and many need medical treatment, aid workers and refugees said a few days ago.

Jordan closed its northern border about two weeks ago after offering refuge to hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have fled violence since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's rule began in 2011. Syrians trying to enter through unofficial border crossings have also been turned back. Jordanian officials have given no explanation for the closure.

The kingdom – where about half a million Syrians have sought sanctuary – has since allowed only a handful of refugees across. Even civilians seeking medical treatment have been turned back and only critically wounded people have entered, according to aid workers.

Hundreds of refugees from areas as far north as Homs and from Damascus still arrive daily at the border villages of Nasib and Tal Shehab in southern Syria, a few kilometres from the main routes for entry into Jordan. YouTube videos have shown refugees, including mothers and babies, who waited for hours in sweltering heat but were then refused entry by Jordanian army officers.

The UNHCR's head of mission in Jordan, Andrew Harper, said the plight of the refugees showed the need to step up aid support inside Syria to relieve the pressure on the kingdom.

Meanwhile, according to Médecins Sans Frontières, the situation facing 100,000 Syrians stranded in Zaatari camp in Jordan, near the Syrian border, seems to be worsening, with MSF medical teams seeing a rise in respiratory and diarrhoeal infections as summer approaches. Antoine Foucher, the MSF's country manager in Jordan, said: "Thus far, the Jordanian government has made significant efforts to host refugees. But the pressure caused by the massive influx has resulted in an increasingly difficult situation." The camp has exceeded its capacity and tensions are running high, he said, adding: "There is no sustainable solution for hosting refugees, due to a lack of long-term financial support."

Claudia Truppa, an MSF doctor in Zaatari, said: "Our staff are witnessing more and more cases of diarrhoea and respiratory infections, reflecting the precarious living conditions of the refugees in this overcrowded camp, and we expect to see an increase in dehydration cases over the summer."

MSF said in a statement: "Jordan's healthcare system is also under strain. MSF refers the most severe cases to Jordanian public hospitals outside the camp. These hospitals are nearing full capacity, and insufficient funding threatens the ability of the country's healthcare system to treat Syrian refugees properly."

Mr Foucher said: "The Jordanian government risks resorting to drastic measures: permanently blocking refugee access to the country or restricting access to care in public facilities, undermining the already precarious living conditions of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. Jordan urgently needs greater international support if it is to sustain a real open-door policy."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Designer

£32969 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Data Engineer

£35000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Data Engineer is required to ...

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence