The UN is tabling a new approach to address Syrian refugees' crisis during an upcoming donors' conference for Syrian people, due in Kuwait on March 31, in yet another bid to address their multi-dimensional needs.
The UN, suffering from lack of funding resources for needy Syrian people, is desperate in facing multi-dimensional needs of Syrian people who have been either internally displaced (IDPs) or refugees in neighboring countries since the conflict broke out in March 2011.
The UN, to appeal for up to some USD 8.4 billion during the donors' conference, better known as Kuwait III, launched the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan 2015-16 (3RP) late last year in order to address suffering of Syrian refugees in host communities in neighboring countries at humanitarian and development levels.
The Syrian conflict is entering its five year year now with no solution looming in horizon thus causing what has become to be known as Donors Fatigue, triggering social problems irrelevant to sole humanitarian needs. The Syrian refugees are becoming helpless and lack financial resources thus seeking all means to survive, like forcing early marriage of girls and sell basic belongings.
"We are very much concerned that four years of crisis is not only challenging conflict resolution process, but the way we address the impact of the crisis," said Gustavo Gonzalez, Sub-Regional Development Coordinator, Sub-Regional Response Facility - Syria Crisis, of the UN Development Program (UNDP).
"We expect that we come up with 3RP and Syria Response Plan (SRP) to have developing partners to come around the table to address these crises," he added. The 3RP is dedicated to Syrian refugees in five neighboring countries - Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, combined hosting some 3.3 million Syrians, while SRP is for some 6.5 million IDPs.
"There is a huge demographic shock in neighboring countries, fueling competition for jobs, access to water, housing and buying of lands," Gonzalez said in an interview with KUNA.
The UN hope donors will be generous during Kuwait III, and will appeal for some USD 8.4 billion, of them USD 5.5 billion for neighboring countries and USD 2.9 billion for IDPs.
"Kuwait III will have two documents, one is the Syrian Response Plan and the 3RP 2015-16," noted Gonzalez, who paid a two-day visit to Kuwait this past Wednesday and Thursday.
Neighboring countries will submit their appeals in Kuwait III, the largest conference organized by the UN with regards to the magnitude of the crisis. Kuwait hosted the first and second donor conferences in 2013 and 2014, with total pledges amounting to some USD 3.9 billion, of which Kuwait contributed USD 800 million.
Kuwait III is about partnership, he said. UNDP, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) are mobilizing humanitarian and development communities to make sure the conference succeeds thus guarantee additional resources.
"Kuwait III is important in itself because it is a critical milestone because the participants will discuss beyond Kuwait III. Many donors trying to combine security, humanitarian and development" needs of refugees, said Gonzalez.
"The International community recognize that this is a protracted crisis, lasted more than expected thus we need to have a different approach, new funding instrument, operate on field in a different way, better use of resources," he added.
"What is new in Kuwait III is that it is the first time that we have a pledging conference with new approach. There is a general understanding that this is not just a humanitarian crisis but a development crisis, providing the level of destruction of Syria has drawn the country back 40 years," said Gonzalez.
The Syrian conflict, which killed more than 200,000 people and inflicted USD 139.8 billion in losses to economy in 2011-13, created the largest displacement of people since the second World War, the number of people in need in Syria increased 12 times since the beginning of the crisis.
"This is a devastating crisis, one of the most challenging crisis we have in contemporary history," he said, but the UN is improving its response via SRP and 3RP.
The 3RP, designed to help the host communities in neighboring countries, provides a consolidated framework to address refugee protection needs, humanitarian needs of most vulnerable, and longer-term socio-economic impacts of Syria crisis on neighboring countries.
The 3RP has two inter-connected components: the refugee protection and humanitarian aid, and resilience-stabilization-based development assistance.
The fact that the international community fails to far to find a political solution for the Syrian crisis caused "what we called the donors fatigue," basically generating a feeling among donors of a never-ending conflict which on the other hand deepening refugees' crisis.
Gonzalez said that Kuwait has been playing a major humanitarian role vis-a-vis the Syrian crisis, which was causing, among others, unemployment of youth and security problems.
"Without the support of Kuwait, I don't know any other way that this response could have been affected. We need to recognize the leadership of Kuwait in gathering all these humanitarian efforts for crises requesting huge resources. That is a leadership widely recognized at a global level," said Gonzalez.
"We expect Kuwait III to be a new starting point in the way we address the Syrian crisis (and) making sure that it capture this multi-dimensional sides of the crisis," which has been undermining regional stability, discouraging investment and economic activities, he added.
He said the UN was getting some 45 percent of total pledges which caused strains on the capabilities of the UN agencies to provide services for refugees, coupled with emergence of other crises like Gaza reconstruction, Ebola virus and Sahel.
The Syrian refugees, over a million of them were children, lack hope of an early solution, said Gonzalez, and noted that the social fabric of the Syrian society has been undermined as a result.
"The crisis is not compromising this generation but future ones. The capacity of people in having hope and trust is in jeopardy," he said.
Gonzalez has met during his visit with senior officials from the government, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), the Foreign Ministry and Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRSC) as part of the preparation for Kuwait III.
On the other hand, UN Special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura is trying hard to enforce on a plan to freeze the fighting in the northern city of Aleppo, aimed seizing every opportunity to build trust between conflicting parties.