Agreement signed between Syria, UNHCR to assist Iraqis fleeing Iraq

By NNN-Kuna,

Geneva : The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced that it signed Monday an agreement with the Syrian government to provide the country’s Ministry of Health with USD 2.06 million for rehabilitation of public hospitals in Damascus, medical buildings and provision of new medical equipment.

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According to UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis Tuesday, the amount is in addition to 11 ambulances the organisation is delivering to the Ministry of Health, Syrian Red Crescent and the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Pagonis explained that this agreement, the fourth between UNHCR and the Syrian government, is part of UNHCR’s commitment to support the country’s response to the crisis of Iraqi refugees since the beginning of the year.

She added that the UNHCR has alloted a total of USD 9.6 million for aid agreements with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the Ministry of Education and the Governorate of Al Hassake.

The funds, Pagonis added, are to be used to rehabilitate 70 schools and build three new ones; to provide thousands of Iraqi schoolchildren in Syria with textbooks and other supplies; to construct a new hospital in Damascus; to support nine health clinics; and to provide food to Palestinian and Iraqi refugees.

“Earlier this year, UNHCR established a new registration centre for Iraqi refugees in Douma, 25 km from Damascus. To date, the office has registered 77,683 Iraqi refugees. During registration, the most vulnerable of the refugees are identified for further medical assistance, community services and resettlement,” she said.

According to the refugee agency, an estimated two million Iraqis are currently displaced within their country, while another two million are believed to have fled to nearby nations.

The Syrian government estimates that 1.4 million Iraqis have taken refuge in Syria in the last three years. An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 Iraqis are fleeing their homes monthly.

In January, the UNHCR launched a USD 60 million appeal to fund its programmes this year aimed at helping hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people affected by the conflict.

Pagonis noted that while the initial UNHCR appeal has been met, the needs in the region go far beyond the refugee agency’s programmes.

“We continue to urge more international help for the neighbouring countries to ensure that they will continue to keep their borders open to those in need of refuge,” stressed Pagonis.