Funding shortages have forced relief workers to triage shipments to children and refugees in wintry climates
More than 13 million people have fled from conflict zones in Iraq and Syria in an ongoing humanitarian crisis that the United Nations’ refugee agency says could push relief efforts to a breaking point.
The updated tallies include 7.2 million displaced persons within Syria, nearly half of whom have fled to neighboring countries, as well as 1.9 million displaced persons in Iraq.
While the agency has spent $154 million on winter supplies, representatives report that inventories are running dangerously low. Without an additional $58.5 million in donations, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees would be forced to ration basic supplies, including blankets and warm clothing, according to a press release.
“UNHCR is having to make some very tough choices over who to prioritize,” said the agency’s chief spokesperson Melissa Fleming. Shipments would be targeted to young children and refugees in cold, high altitude climates. “For those we’re unable to prioritize, the conditions could nonetheless be very tough,” she said.