Mercy Corps Launches Work in Syria to Assist Iraqi Refugees
Feb 12, 08
Portland, Oregon -- This month, Mercy Corps will begin work to address the Iraqi refugee crisis in Syria. Mercy Corps will be the first American global relief and development agency to receive permission from the Syrian government to open an office inside the country since the crisis began. The United Nations estimates that there are 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, an influx that has put significant strain on the resources of that small nation.
About Mercy Corps' Syria Programs
This event will mark the launch of a vocational, information technology training program to provide job skills and computer training for Iraqi refugees and vulnerable young Syrians ages 16-25. The project will be implemented with the assistance Mercy Corps' local partners, the Syrian Computer Society (SCS) and The Union for Arab ICT Associations (IJMA3, or Ittihad Jameyet Maaloumatiyah Arabiya). The organization is also distributing a small amount of emergency food and hygiene kits in cooperation with a local partner, Middle East Council of Churches (MECC).
Lack of Funds Could Affect Assistance to
Iraqi Refugees in Syria: UN
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- The United Nations began its third round of aid distribution to tens of thousands of registered Iraqi refugees in Syria on Sunday, warning that a shortage of funds could prevent their next distribution slated for April.
The food, blankets, soap and mattresses will be delivered over 35 days to the 145,000 Iraqi refugees registered by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said a joint statement by UNHCR and World Food Program.
Syria is home to some 1.5 million Iraqi refugees, many of whom have fled violence in their home country following the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. Their influx has strained Syria's education, health and housing systems, pushing the government to call for international assistance and tighten visa requirements.
Najwa Mohammed, 30, from Baghdad said at a distribution center in Damascus that it is the second time she collects her ration from UNHCR.
"We live on our savings from the belongings we sold in Iraq," said Mohammed who has been living in Syria with her husband and three children for that past two years.
In January, WFP and UNHCR launched appeals for funding to assist refugees who have fled violence in Iraq to Syria as well as thousands more displaced in Iraq. However, both agencies say they have not received the full amount of funds needed and they are facing a US$113 million (€78 million) shortfall.
"While we should be preparing now for the next distribution we simply have no resources to do so," said WFP Syria Country Director Pippa Bradford in the press release.
She added that out of the US$43 million (€29.6 million) appeal to donors, only US$5 million (€3.45 million) has been received so far, which is barely enough to cover the first two months of the year.
UNHCR Representative in Syria, Laurens Jolles, said "food assistance for refugees is crucial to prevent the worst consequences of the increased poverty of Iraqi refugees."
Iraqi refugee Salem Abdul-Rahman, 60, said at the distribution center that he lives on assistance sent to him by his brother who lives in Germany.
"This is the third ration from UNHCR, and even though it is not good (food) I had to have it because I urgently need it," he said.