AMMAN, Jordan, Aug 15 (UNHCR) – The first of 33 trucks from the UN refugee agency left on Thursday with the largest shipment of emergency relief items for people uprooted inside Syria that UNHCR has dispatched so far this year from its Dubai stockpile.
The convoy will travel by road across the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to UNHCR’s forward warehouse in Jordan, from where the goods will be sent into Syria for internally displaced people (IDPs).
“UNHCR is working inside Syria and in neighboring countries to help people uprooted by the war,” said Amin Awad, UNHCR’s Director of its Bureau for the Middle East and North Africa and Regional Refugee Coordinator.
“This shipment of relief items will ensure thousands of vulnerable Syrian families have the necessary aid they require amidst the horrific conflict,” Awad said.
Among items leaving Dubai were blankets for 100,000 people, more than 27,000 kitchen sets for some 139,000 people and 50,000 jerry cans that will help more than 125,000 people.
Over 2013, UNHCR has distributed urgently needed relief items to more than 1.6 million people inside Syria, many displaced by the conflict that is now in its third year. To-date, UNHCR field teams have distributed more than 3.6 million relief items inside Syria, including within besieged areas.
“In the last week UNHCR and its partners sent a convoy of nine trucks into the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib with UNHCR relief items for 10,000 people living in the city that is still the scene of active fighting,” said Tarik Kurdi, UNHCR Representative in Syria.
In Damascus, UNHCR is currently completing its second distribution of cash assistance to internally displaced Syrians. So far this year, more than 36,000 people from nearly 7,000 families have been assisted in Damascus with aid in Syrian pounds totaling more than $984,000.
Most IDPs in Damascus who qualify for the UNHCR cash assistance program fled from Adra, a city northeast of the Syrian capital. Throughout Syria, UNHCR cash assistance has reached more than 65,000 people from more than 12,400 families in 2013.
“UNHCR has established vulnerability criteria and carefully screens internally displaced persons to ensure they qualify for the cash aid program,” Kurdi said in Damascus. “Many of the displaced persons we are assisting are persons with disabilities or serious medical conditions.”
UNHCR’s 33 truck shipment from Dubai starting on Thursday is part of the UN refugee agency’s efforts to help many of Syria’s more than 4.25 million IDPs to prepare for the upcoming winter. Overall, relief agencies estimate there are more than 6.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance within Syria.
UNHCR also oversees aid to more than 1.9 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, including more than 684,000 in Lebanon, 516,000 in Jordan, some 434,000 in Turkey, 154,000 in Iraq and 107,000 in Egypt.
However, UNHCR’s regional program to help Syrian refugees and vulnerable people caught inside the war-torn country is so far only 38% funded.
Dubai’s International Humanitarian City, an initiative of the government of Dubai and Her Royal Highness Princess Haya, is UNHCR’s main global hub for aid items with stocks of blankets, tents, kitchen sets and other items for more than 350,000 people.
By Peter Kessler in Amman