Nightmare for Syrian refugees as donors fail to pay for food aid
Syria’s civil war has killed more than 200,000 people in less than four years, a monitoring group said on Tuesday, adding that most were fighters from the two sides.
“We have documented the killing of 202,354 people since March 2011,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdul Rahman said, adding that more than 130,000 of them were combatants.
“Of the total, 63,074 of the killed were civilians, including 10,377 children,” said Abdul Rahman.
“Among the anti-regime fighters, 37,324 were Syrian rebels, while 22,624 were non-Syrian [Islamist militants],” he added.
“On the regime side, there were 44,237 soldiers, 28,974 members of the (paramilitary) National Defence Force, 624 members of (Lebanon’s Shiite) Hezbollah, and 2,388 pro-regime Shiite fighters from beyond Syria and Lebanon,” Abdul Rahman said.
Another 3,011 were unidentified, he added.
Abdul Rahman said the toll “is probably much higher than 200,000, but certain areas under regime and [Daesh] control are impossible to work in freely”.
He also said some 300,000 people are being held in Syria’s infamous jails, including 20,000 who have gone missing entirely.
Thousands of other people — combatants and civilians — have also been taken hostage by Deash and other factions active in Syria.
Meanwhile, aid workers fear a major humanitarian crisis for millions of Syrian refugees in the Middle East after funding gaps forced the United Nations to cut food assistance for 1.7 million people.
The UN’s World Food Programme said on Monday it needed $64 million to fund its food voucher programme for December alone, and that “many donor commitments remain unfulfilled”.
The announcement came as aid groups struggle to prepare millions of refugees for the impending winter, particularly those living in informal camps in cold, mountainous areas.
“It’s going to be a devastating impact. This couldn’t come at a worse time,” said Ron Redman, regional spokesman for the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
“We’re trying to get everyone prepared for winter and if you look at the conditions particularly in Lebanon in some of these informal settlements, the conditions are already very bad.”
“We’re doing everything we can... to keep their shelters at least warm and as dry as possible. But you can be warm and dry, but if you don’t have food, you’re in big trouble.”
WFP’s food vouchers were helping nearly two million refugees scattered in countries around the Middle East.
Each refugee receives a card that is topped up with money each month.
The amount differs from country to country, but is intended to allow each refugee to buy food equivalent to 2,100 calories per day.
But for most of the agency’s recipients, December’s top-up has not arrived.