Middle East

US boosts humanitarian aid to Syria to over $100 mn

Syrian refugee children eat at a school where families fleeing the ongoing violence in their country have been hosted in the Lebanese village of Majdal Anjar in the eastern Bekaa Valley near the border with Syria on September 4, 2012. The number of Syrian refugees rose sharply last month, with more than 100,000 fleeing the war-torn country?to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, according to the UN refugee agency. AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO

WASHINGTON: The United States Wednesday unveiled $21 million in new aid help those caught up in the conflict in Syria, boosting its humanitarian funding to over $100 million.

USAID head Rajiv Shah announced during a visit to Jordan that the new funds would be made available to the UN World Food Program to help feed Syrians both inside and outside the country.

"With this new assistance, the United States is providing a total of more than $100 million for humanitarian activities both inside Syria and in neighboring countries," the State Department said in a statement.

The United States was "deeply concerned by the humanitarian crisis caused by violence in Syria," it said, adding that more than "100,000 refugees have flooded into neighboring countries in the month of August, stretching host country capacity.

"We commend the generosity of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq in assisting approximately 240,000 Syrians who have fled."

According to UN figures, some 2.5 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance, more than double the number assessed in March, and over 1.2 million have been internally displaced.

A humanitarian watchdog says more than 26,000 people have been killed in Syria since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad erupted in March 2011.

Of the new funding, some $14.3 million will provide food aid to those affected inside Syria and $6.7 million will help Syrian refugees in neighboring countries.

The United States is already providing $48.5 million to the World Food Program, $23.1 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with other sums being made available to non-governmental organizations, and groups such as UNICEF and the Red Cross.

"While the US government is engaged in planning for the day after the Assad regime falls, it is clear that at this juncture the international community must continue planning for long-term assistance for the region," the statement added.

The United States is also providing some $25 million in non-lethal aid to the rebels, funding such things as communications equipment. But despite some calls to arm the opposition, the US administration has refused to provide any weapons.





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