The number of Syrian refugees registered in nearby countries has topped five million for the first time, according to figures released on March 30 by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
As of March 23, a total of 5,018,168 Syrian refugees were registered by UNHCR in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and North Africa, or by the government of Turkey, which keeps its own records.
UNICEF estimates half of the refugees living in Syria’s neighbouring countries are children.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called on the international community to do more to help Syrian refugees.
“We still have a long road to travel in expanding resettlement,” Grandi said. “To meet this challenge, we not only need additional places, but also need to accelerate the implementation of existing pledges.”
Only 250,000 resettlement places have been made available since a UN meeting in Geneva one year ago that sought pledges to resettle 10% of Syrian refugees by 2018.
Only the most vulnerable refugees are referred for resettlement, which grants permanent residence in another country for refugees whose life, liberty, safety, health or other fundamental rights are at risk.
UNHCR estimates that Syrians account for 40% of the 1.2 million refugees that will need resettlement in 2017.
September 2016’s New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants committed UN members to increase efforts to find homes for refugees identified by UNHCR as needing protection in third countries.
Funding work with Syrian refugees
In January 2017, United Nations agencies and NGO partners launched the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), appealing for US$4.63 billion in new funding for work with refugees from Syria and for communities hosting them in neighbouring countries.
The plan aims to help more than 4.7 million refugees from Syria and 4.4 million people hosting them in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
As of March 20, almost $300 million had been received, but this represents only 6.4% of the funding required for 2017.
Of over 150 UN agencies and NGOs which require funding under the plan, only eight have received contributions for 2017, including UNHCR, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation.
The funding for 3RP is in addition to the $3.4 billion the UN estimates will be required to address the humanitarian needs of 13.5 million people inside Syria in 2017.