Lack of funding hampers UN efforts to support drought-stricken Syrians

Up to 60 percent of Syria's land and over one million people are affected by drought

8 March 2010 – A huge shortfall in funding for life-saving emergency assistance to a drought-stricken region of Syria has forced the humanitarian arm of the United Nations to review its response plan for the population suffering under the three-year dry spell, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned today.

The ongoing drought in north-eastern Syria has devastated the livelihoods of more than 1 million people, driving hundreds of thousands to urban areas where they face extremely difficult living conditions, according to OCHA.

To date, UN assistance has centred on providing a food aid and agricultural packages to farmers and herders in a bid to keep them on their land and re-start agricultural work, particularly with the promise of rainfall during the winter months.

However, with the $43.6 million drought response plan – prepared to complement Government efforts already in place – receiving less than 30 per cent of its funding by the end of February, the UN country team’s efforts to assist those in need have been severely restricted.

In January, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg met in Cairo, Egypt, with representatives of the League of Arab States. She encouraged the group to take a “proactive role in promoting international humanitarian coordination and funding for the various humanitarian appeals and response plans in the region.”

As well as the Syrian drought response plan, there are appeals for Afghanistan ($871 million), the occupied Palestinian territory ($664 million) and Yemen ($177 million), and a humanitarian action plan for Iraq ($193 million).

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