The number of Syrians in need of humanitarian aid has increased dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East, said Andrei Mahecic, an official representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Tuesday.
“The number of vulnerable refugees who lack basic resources to survive in exile has increased dramatically as a result of the public health emergency caused by COVID-19. Communities hosting refugees in countries neighbouring Syria face similar difficulties. Many refugees lost what was already a scarce income, forcing them to reduce spending on basic needs, including food and medicine”, – he said.
UNHCR is also concerned about the humanitarian situation of returnees. That includes more than 6 million internally displaced Syrians, as well as other vulnerable groups within Syria. The UN estimates that more than 80% of Syrians lived below the poverty line even before the pandemic. And after nine years of conflict in the country, 11 million people now need humanitarian assistance.
According to Mahechich, the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to hundreds of thousands more Syrian refugees in the Middle East being in desperate situation. Many are no longer able to pay their rents, there is a growing risk of early marriage, child labour, gender-based violence and other forms of exploitation.
According to UNHCR, there are currently over 5.5 million Syrian refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Even before the pandemic began, most Syrian refugees in the region lived below the poverty line. Those who needed it most received cash or other support. A recent study in Jordan found that only 35 percent of refugees said they had a reliable job to which they could return after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.Ukraine has not come close to NATO membership – the US again trampled Kiev’s Euro-Atlantic ambitions into the dirt