This week I have an article on the History News Network about why humanitarian aid is so critical for Syria. We have to look ahead too, with winter not too far around the corner.
If the conflict continues, humanitarian needs are only going to increase. When you add colder temperatures on top of this prospect, it is cause for great alarm. Winter clothing will be needed for refugees from the Syrian conflict, in addition to food and other basic items.
Here is some of the latest information from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) on its hunger relief efforts for Syrian war victims. In September WFP is feeding around 1.5 million people in 14 Syrian governorates affected by the conflict. WFP works through its partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
Though many families have fled Homs, a few choose to return to their homes in the neighbourhood of Baba Amr despite the challenges. Of those who have fled from Homs to Aleppo, many were later forced to move along when the fighting intensified there as well. (WFP/Abeer Etefa)
WFP says, "The situation remains tense across the country with armed activities on-going in various governorates and on international roads causing WFP dispatches to be delayed and monitoring activities hindered especially in Idleb, Homs and Aleppo."
WFP relies on voluntary donations from the international community. There have been generous donations already from the United States and other countries. But so much more is needed given the size of the emergency. That is why funding for the U.S. Food for Peace program, which is a major supporter of WFP, is so crucial.
WFP currently faces a $61 million shortage of funding in Syria. Another vital aspect of WFP's work is in the area of communications and logistics. These measures help connect aid groups so they can better coordinate operations and transportation.
WFP reported last week, "Urgent funding is also needed to continue implementing activities under the Special Operation (SO) 200477, aimed at augmenting WFP’s capacity in logistics, communication and security amidst the increasingly challenging environment."
In addition to relief activities inside Syria there is help needed for hundreds of thousands who have fled the country into neighboring Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. WFP also needs additional funding for this operation.
Catholic Relief Services is also carrying on relief work to help the refugees, with their focus on Jordan and Lebanon. They are also urging people to contact Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to build support for helping the refugees and ending the conflict.