Canada gives $25M for Syrian crisis as refugees continue to flee
Humanitarian groups say devastation will require ongoing financial efforts
Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Almost every day for the last two months, the lanky, wide-eyed Syrian boy asks his teacher when his parents will come to join him in northern Lebanon.
The boy fled Syria’s civil war – now in its 22nd month – with his aunt. What he doesn’t know is that his parents are among the estimated 60,000 people that the United Nations estimates have been killed in the war.
“Nobody knows when the aunt will tell him,” recalled a weary Patricia Erb, over the telephone late Wednesday night from Beirut.
Erb, the president of Save the Children Canada, visited the boy and his class of Syrian refugees the previous day, where she sat and listened to “all these individual, tragic stories.”
Canada announced Wednesday that it is contributing an additional $25 million to help people displaced by the Syrian crisis, bringing the country’s total contribution to $48 million to date.
But with no end in sight to the Syrian bloodshed, Erb and many others like her say much more will be needed.
Canada’s latest contribution will help provide food, water, shelter, medical care and safety for some of the estimated 700,000 refugees who have fled Syria into neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.
International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino announced the new Canadian funds Wednesday at an international donors’ conference in Kuwait. The UN exceeded the $1.5 billion goal it set for the Kuwait meeting.
Toronto-based aid worker Melanie Sharpe, a UNICEF Canada spokeswoman, got a first-hand look at the pace of the escalating humanitarian crisis while spending three months last year working in Jordan’s largest refugee camp.
Sharpe first laid eyes on northern Jordan’s dusty, windblown Za’atari camp in July when it had about 2,000 occupants. When she departed in early November, the refugee population stood at 35,000.
This month, the camp has received its single largest influx of refugees with 40,000 new arrivals, 24,000 of them children. That’s a massive increase from the 16,000 people that crossed over from Syria in all of December.
© The Daily News (Nanaimo) 2013