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Note Of Syrian Humantarian Intervention Essay

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Syria: Overview of the
Humanitarian Response
Rhoda Margesson
Specialist in International Humanitarian Policy
Susan G. Chesser
Information Research Specialist
May 30, 2014

Congressional Research Service
7-5700
www.crs.gov
R43119

Syria: Overview of the Humanitarian Response

Summary
The ongoing conflict in Syria has created one of the most pressing humanitarian crises in the world. More than three years later, as of late May 2014, an estimated 9.3 million people inside Syria, nearly half the population, have been affected by the conflict, with nearly 6.5 million displaced. In addition, 2.8 million Syrians are displaced as refugees, with 97% fleeing to countries in the immediate surrounding region, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and other parts of North Africa. The situation is fluid and continues to worsen, while humanitarian needs are immense and increase daily.

While internationally supervised disarmament of chemical weapons in Syria is proceeding, albeit with some difficulty, U.S. and international diplomatic efforts to negotiate a political end to the fighting in Syria opened on January 22, 2014, in Montreux, Switzerland. The “Geneva II” talks included some members of the Syrian opposition, representatives of the Syrian government, and other government leaders. The first round of talks came to an end on January 31 and resumed February 10-15, but ended with little progress in efforts to end the civil war. The parties reportedly agreed to an agenda for a third round of talks. Many experts and observers hoped that a lasting agreement would have been reached on “humanitarian pauses” to allow access and relief to thousands of civilians blockaded in towns and cities in Syria. On February 22, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2139 (2014) to increase humanitarian access and aid delivery in Syria. On May 13, 2014, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint United Nations-League of Arab States Special Representative on the crisis, would resign his post effective May 31.

U.S. Assistance and Priorities
The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance and is part of the massive, international humanitarian operation in parts of Syria and in neighboring countries. Beginning in FY2012, through May 28, 2014, the United States has allocated more than $1.7 billion to meet humanitarian needs using existing funding from global humanitarian accounts and some reprogrammed funding. U.S. humanitarian policy is guided by concerns about humanitarian access and protection within Syria; the large refugee flows out of the country that strain the resources of neighboring countries (and could negatively impact the overall stability of the region); and a protracted and escalating humanitarian emergency. The Administration’s FY2015 budget request seeks $1.1 billion in humanitarian assistance for Syria and the region.

International Response
The international humanitarian response is massive and complex and struggles to keep pace with urgent developments that have escalated well beyond anticipated needs and continue to do so. Access within Syria is severely constrained by violence and restrictions imposed by the Syrian government on the operations of humanitarian organizations. In mid-December 2013, the United Nations launched two appeals—taken together its largest appeal in history—requesting $6.5 billion in contributions to meet the ongoing humanitarian needs in Syria and the region.

Ongoing Humanitarian Challenges of the Syria Crisis and U.S. Policy As U.S. policy makers and the international community deliberate over what, if any, actions they can or should take on the Syria crisis, possible humanitarian policy issues for Congress include

Congressional Research Service

Syria: Overview of the Humanitarian Response

the immediate need for access within Syria by humanitarian organizations, which has been severely constrained by violence and restrictions imposed by the Syrian government;

examining U.S. assistance and priorities in an ongoing humanitarian response;

balancing the Syria response with domestic priorities and other humanitarian concerns worldwide;

ensuring the ongoing willingness and cooperation of Syria’s neighbors, which are receiving the vast majority of refugees from Syria, to keep borders open and to host refugees fleeing Syria;

finding ways to alleviate the strain on civilians and those responding to the crisis as the situation worsens and becomes more protracted, including the support of initiatives, such as emergency development assistance, for communities within neighboring countries that are hosting refugees; and

encouraging the participation of other countries to provide support through humanitarian admission, resettlement, facilitated visa procedures, and protection for those seeking asylum.

The United States has a critical voice regarding humanitarian access in Syria, the pace of humanitarian developments and contingency planning, support to neighboring countries that are hosting refugees, and burdensharing among donors.

This report examines the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria and the U.S. and international response and will be updated as events warrant. For background and information on Syria, see CRS Report RL33487, Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response, by Christopher M. Blanchard (coordinator), Carla E. Humud and Mary Beth D. Nikitin, and CRS Report R43201, Possible U.S. Intervention in Syria: Issues for Congress, coordinated by Christopher M. Blanchard and Jeremy M. Sharp. See also CRS Report R42848, Syria’s Chemical Weapons: Issues for Congress, coordinated by Mary Beth D. Nikitin.

Congressional Research Service

Syria: Overview of the Humanitarian Response

Contents
Overview and Recent Developments ............................................................................................... 1 Selected International Efforts .................................................................................................... 3 Evolving Humanitarian Situation .................................................................................................... 5 Situation in Syria ....................................................................................................................... 5 Situation in Neighboring Countries ........................................................................................... 7 U.S. Policy ....................................................................................................................................... 9 U.S. Funding and Allocation ................................................................................................... 11 Funding for Future Humanitarian Assistance in Syria ............................................................ 13 Branding .................................................................................................................................. 14 U.N. and International Humanitarian Efforts ................................................................................ 14 International Response Framework ......................................................................................... 14 U.N. Appeals and Other Donor Funding ................................................................................. 16 Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan ................................................................. 16 Regional Refugee Response Plan ...................................................................................... 17 Contributions Outside the U.N. Appeals ........................................................................... 17 Looking Ahead: Key Challenges ................................................................................................... 19

Figures
Figure 1. Dispersal of Refugees from Syria..................................................................................... 6 Figure 2. Number of Syrian Refugees Registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Northern Africa ...................................................................................................................... 8 Figure 3. Distribution of Refugees, by Country .............................................................................. 9 Figure A-1. Implementing Partners Receiving U.S. Funds for Projects in Syria and Countries of Refuge .................................................................................................................... 21 Figure A-2. Percentage of U.S. Funded Humanitarian Assistance, by Country ............................ 22

Tables
Table 1. Total U.S. Humanitarian Assistance to the Syria Complex Emergency, FY2012– FY2014 ....................................................................................................................................... 11 Table 2. U.S. Humanitarian Assistance to the Syria Complex Emergency.................................... 11 Table 3. CY2014 International and U.S. Funding, by Destination Country .................................. 12 Table 4. CY2012-2013 International and U.S. Funding, by Destination Country ......................... 13 Table 5. CY2014 Requirements and Funding Received for the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP) .......................................................................................... 17 Table 6. CY2014 Requirements and Funding for the Syria Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP) .................................................................................................................................. 17 Table 7. CY2014 Total Requirements and Funding Received for Syrian Crisis............................ 18

Congressional Research Service

Syria: Overview of the Humanitarian Response

Table A-1. Implementing Partners Receiving U.S. Funds for Projects in Syria and Countries of Refuge .................................................................................................................... 21 Table A-2. U.S. Funded Humanitarian Assistance, by Country ..................................................... 23 Table B-1. Agencies Implementing Projects within the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP), the Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP), and Projects Outside the Appeals, for All Donors ........................................................................................... 24 Table D-1. Top 25 Country Donors in Response to the Syria Arab Republic Civil Unrest Humanitarian Funding ................................................................................................................ 27 Table E-1. Pledges Not Converted ................................................................................................. 29

Appendixes
Appendix A. Distribution of U.S. Funds, CY2012-2014 ............................................................... 21 Appendix B. Selected Humanitarian Projects Funded by All Donors in Syria and the Region......................................................................................................................................... 24 Appendix C. Selected Humanitarian Partners Serving the Syria Arab Republic Civil Unrest, CY2014 .......................................................................................................................... 26 Appendix D. U.S. and International Humanitarian Country Donors to the Syria Crisis, CY2012-2014 ............................................................................................................................. 27 Appendix E. 2013 Pledges Not Converted to Commitments or Contributions as of May 27, 2014 ...................................................................................................................................... 29 Appendix F. Sources for Further Information................................................................................ 31

Contacts
Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 31

Congressional Research Service

Syria: Overview of the Humanitarian Response

Overview and Recent Developments1
Congress has demonstrated an ongoing interest in many different aspects of the three-year civil war in Syria. The humanitarian situation, in particular, has garnered significant bipartisan attention. Members have proposed and enacted legislation addressing the issue and have held hearings on the U.S. and international humanitarian response to the conflict. Although not discussed in this report, the use of chemical weapons in Syria on August 21, 2013, triggered an intense debate over possible U.S. military intervention.2 This debate created temporary momentum focused on the dire humanitarian situation within Syrian where humanitarian organizations remain severely constrained by the conflict, fighting, and restrictions imposed by the Syrian government.

Humanitarian assistance has traditionally been
one of the least controversial types of foreign
aid, and in the Syria context, it has so far been
one avenue in which the United States has
provided support to Syrian civilians absent a
political solution. The United States remains
the largest humanitarian donor. As of late May
2014, it is providing roughly 20% of the
funding for the humanitarian response in
calendar year (CY) 2014, In CY2012CY2013, the United States provided an average of 22% of the funding for the crisis.
U.S. humanitarian policy is guided by
concerns about access and protection within
Syria; the large refugee flows out of the
country that strain the resources of
neighboring countries (and could negatively
impact the overall stability of the region); and
an already escalating and protracted
humanitarian emergency.

Estimated Numbers at a Glance
(As of May 22, 2014)
Syria’s total population:
21.4 million
Number in need of humanitarian assistance:
9.3 million (of these, over 3 million are in hard-toreach and besieged areas) Number of children affected by the crisis in Syria:
5.5 million
Number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within
Syria:
6.5 million
Number of refugees fleeing Syria and seeking protection
in neighboring countries and North Africa:
2.8 million
Source: Humanitarian Bulletin, Syrian Arab Republic,
Issue 44, March12, 2014, United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and USAID, “SyriaComplex Emergency,” Fact Sheet #15 FY2014, May 22, 2014.

Along with the international community, the United States provides humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the conflict both inside and outside Syria. Such assistance includes medical care and medical supplies (including immunization programs), food, water, shelter, and other non-food items such as blankets and clothing. It also supports programs focused on psycho-social rehabilitation of refugees and the prevention of gender-based violence.3 1

For background on the Syria situation, see CRS Report RL33487, Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response, coordinated by Christopher M. Blanchard.
2
CRS Report R43201, Possible U.S. Intervention in Syria: Issues for Congress, coordinated by Christopher M. Blanchard and Jeremy M. Sharp. See also CRS Report R42848, Syria’s Chemical Weapons: Issues for Congress, coordinated by Mary Beth D. Nikitin.

3
The very nature of humanitarian emergencies—the need to respond quickly in order to save lives and provide relief— has resulted in a broad definition of humanitarian assistance, on both a policy and operational level. While humanitarian assistance is assumed to address urgent food, shelter, and medical needs, the agencies within the U.S. government providing this support expand or contract the definition in response to circumstances.

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1

Syria: Overview of the Humanitarian Response

Since the conflict began in March 2011 in Syria, reportedly an unknown number of civilians have been wounded and tens of thousands of lives lost. Some observers estimate the death toll figures to be as many as 100,000 to 150,000, and others say it is likely much higher.4 In January 2014, according to press reports, the United Nations stopped updating the death toll figures from the Syria conflict, stating that it could no longer verify the sources of information that led to the last count of 100,000 (July 2013). It is estimated that more than 2% of the pre-conflict Syrian population of 21.4 million has been killed, maimed, or wounded over the course of the conflict. In addition to the use of chemical weapons, there are repeated allegations of serious human rights and international humanitarian law violations on all sides of the conflict. Observers claim that hundreds of detainees and political prisoners have died under torture. The U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic pointed to the “reckless manner in which parties to the conflict conduct hostilities” as a main cause of the civilian casualties and displacement.5 The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has repeatedly urged all sides to fully comply with international humanitarian law. The ICRC currently has no access to detainees.

The United States and many other countries have increasingly recognized the human rights crisis, which not only exacerbates the humanitarian situation, but raises the prospect that atrocities reaching the level of crimes against humanity and war crimes by armed groups may have been committed, including the use of chemical weapons that killed (by some reports) as many as 1,400 civilians on August 21, 2013.6 On January 17, 2014, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned the obstruction of food and medical deliveries to those living in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, emphasizing that starving civilians as a method of combat was prohibited under international law. Other reports of mass executions of detainees on the one hand and killing of civilians on the other have also generated condemnation. Outside Syria, humanitarian workers have observed a sharp rise in gender-based crimes, including rape and sexual violence, as well as exploitation and discrimination in refugee camps and informal settlements.

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic was established on August 22, 2011, by the Human Rights Council.7 Its mandate is to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in the Syrian Arab Republic. The commission was also tasked with (1) establishing the facts and circumstances of such violations and (2...

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