ANKARA, Turkey – The United Nations on Monday, February 6, called on donor countries to supply $3.5 billion in the next two years to help improve education and living standards for the almost 3 million Syrian refugees hosted by Turkey.
Ankara has repeatedly complained of being left alone to deal with the influx of Syrian refugees since the conflict began in March 2011.
The figure of $3.5 billion for the next two years is part of a $4.6 billion package the UN is seeking to help refugees including those hosted by Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.
According to the latest UN figures, Turkey is hosting 2.75 million Syrians – of whom 300,000 live in camps and 2.45 million, over 90%, live in host communities.
"The Turkey chapter of the plan appeals for more than $3.5 billion in new funding to provide vital support over the next two years to address the growing needs of Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them in Turkey," the UN said in a statement.
"Turkey needs and deserves much more financial support," said Jean-Marie Garelli of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
An UNHCR spokesperson said until last year the response plans for Turkey remained the "lowest-funded among those for the frontline host-countries of Syrian refugees."
"Turkey has now the experience on how large numbers of refugees and migrants can be handled in a reasonable way," said the UN's resident coordinator in Turkey, Irina Vojackova-Sollorano.
A priority for funding is education, with some 380,000 children or 40% of Syrian children in Turkey, not going to school, according to the UN children's agency UNICEF.
The plan also aims to improve nutrition of Syrian refugees, provide access to health services and encourage work opportunities including taking up the work permits that Turkey has allowed since 2016.
The UN said in its report on the plan that poverty remains prevalent among the Syrian population in Turkey, 80% of whom are registered in the southeast of the country.
"Many families have resorted to negative coping mechanisms, such as child marriage, polygamy, child labour, reduced quality or quantity of food consumption, substandard housing, and street begging," it said. – Rappler.com