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U.S. spends $419M in new humanitarian aid for Syrian civil war

By
Andrew V. Pestano
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest recently announced that the United States will provide nearly $419 million in additional humanitarian assistance to those affected by the Syrian civil war. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest recently announced that the United States will provide nearly $419 million in additional humanitarian assistance to those affected by the Syrian civil war. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The United States is providing nearly $419 million in additional humanitarian assistance to those affected by the Syrian civil war, bringing the total of U.S. assistance to the conflict this year to more than $1.6 billion.

The majority of new funding supports non-governmental organizations and the United Nations' efforts in Syria, mostly through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Children's Fund.

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The United States will have given more than $4.5 billion in humanitarian assistance since the start of the Syrian civil war by the fiscal year's end.

"Part of the new funding will respond to the 2015 appeals of $8.4 billion from the United Nations for Syria and the region," the White House said in a statement. "It is important to note that even with this contribution, the UN appeals for humanitarian aid to address the crisis in Syria are only 38 percent funded, resulting in cutbacks to food and other essential services."

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The Syrian civil war has killed more than 200,000 and displaced more than 4 million Syrians, many of whom are living as refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. The war has also created a migrant crisis in Europe, as many Syrians are seeking asylum in European Union states, particularly Germany.

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The United States recently announced plans to increase the amount of refugees accepted into the country. For 2016, the United States will accept at least 85,000 refugees, up from 70,000 in 2014, with about 10,000 of them being from Syria specifically. By 2017, at least 100,000 will be accepted.

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More than $242 million of the new U.S. humanitarian assistance will be distributed within Syria and used to support emergency medical care and fund shelters, potable water access and sanitation and hygiene projects.

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Lebanon will receive $75 million as the UN estimates the country is the highest per capita refugee host in the world, with more than a million Syrian refugees.

As for other nations hosting Syrian refugees, Jordan will receive $44 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance, Turkey $29 million, Iraq $22 million and Egypt $4 million.

"The United States recognizes that along with emergency relief, we must address the long-term development needs of Syria's neighbors, and the funding we are providing supports communities in neighboring countries that have so generously hosted those refugees," the White House added. "There are over 4 million Syrian refugees in the world today, the vast majority of whom receive support in the first country to which they flee. It is our hope that by increasing humanitarian assistance and protection efforts in Syria and neighboring countries, Syrians will not be forced to seek assistance abroad at greater personal peril, and will also be able to return home more easily when the conflict ends."

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Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton recently said that the United States needs to do more to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis caused by the Syrian civil war.

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"We're facing the worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II and I think the United States has to do more," Clinton said Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation.

She called on the United States to accept 65,000 Syrian refugees.

The White House said it was advocating for increased humanitarian contributions to Syrians from all governments, organizations and individuals who are "concerned about the situation to support life-saving aid efforts of UN and other partners."

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