Bulgaria’s Cabinet has allocated 200 000 leva (about 100 000 euro) for emergency humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees who have fled into countries neighbouringSyria.
The grant, agreed to by the Cabinet on November 21, is a response to an appeal by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
There are now more than 400 000 Syrian refugees displaced by the conflict with the Assad regime and UN estimates are that with the winter season approaching, meeting the basic survival needs of the refugees will require $488 million.
On November 13, the UN refugee agency said that the violence throughout Syria is making the delivery of vital supplies to displaced people increasingly hazardous, while, beyond the Middle Eastern nation’s borders, the number of Syrian refugees continues to climb.
Addressing journalists in Geneva, a spokesperson for the UNHCR, Melissa Fleming, said the agency had delivered aid packages to 59 000 families, thereby helping 295 000 people.
“The emergency packages contain non-food humanitarian supplies ranging from blankets and clothing to cooking kits and jerry cans,” Fleming said, quoted by the UN News Centre. “These are aimed at helping families meet basic needs during the coming winter.”
Fleming also highlighted the rising challenges faced by UNHCR’s 350 Syria-based staffers, who operate from offices in the capital, Damascus, Aleppo in the northwest, and Hassakeh in the northeast.
“Unfortunately, recent deliveries have been very difficult,” Fleming said. “Last week, humanitarian operations were disrupted on at least two days in Damascus because of insecurity,”
She added, “Similar difficulties were experienced by staff working in Aleppo, and we are temporarily withdrawing staff from north-eastern Hassakeh governorate.”
UNHCR aims to provide aid to 500 000 internally displaced Syrians by the end of the year, amid the violence that UN estimates say has killed at least 20 000 people, mostly civilians, since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began about 20 months ago, and rendered about 2.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
The refugee agency is also committed to helping Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, where the number those who are registered or awaiting registry has now reached 407 000, and, Fleming said, “continues to climb.”
With no end in sight for the conflict in Syria, United Nations officials warned on November 9 that more than four million people may be in need of humanitarian relief by the start of next year and appealed for urgent funds for aid operations, particularly as temperatures begin to drop in the region.
“It is predictable and it is inevitable that more and more people will be killed, injured and displaced the longer this conflict goes on,” the Director of Operations of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Ging, told reporters in Geneva following the conclusion of the Syria Humanitarian Forum.
“Every day more and more people are killed, more and more people are injured, more and more people are internally displaced, more and more people have their lives and their livelihoods destroyed,” Ging said.
At the Friends of Syria group meeting in Morocco in December, the European Union will expect that the unification of the Syrian opposition will have become firmer, that it is open to others who want to join and and that it will have a detailed plan for a transition in the country, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov said on Novembr 29, commenting on the conclusions adopted the previous night by the EU Foreign Affairs Council.
The Council conclusions welcomed the establishment of the national opposition coalition and accepted it as the legitimate representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people. Mladenov said that on the basis of the Foreign Affairs Council’s decision, the EU would provide support to the Syrian opposition through the new coalition.
(Photo of the Cabinet building in Sofia: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)