UN chides donors for not enough aid to Syrian refugees

ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP - The United Nations on Sunday rebuked donors for not doing enough to help millions of Syrian refugees in the region as well as host countries, saying "massive" aid is needed.

"These countries received about three million registered and unregistered Syrian refugees... the truth is that this enormous impact is not being fully recognised by the international community," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said at a meeting of senior diplomats and officials from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.

"Let me be very clear, there has been very little support," he said at northern Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp, which is home to more than 100,000 Syrians.

"There must be massive support from the international community at the level of government budgets and development projects related to education, health, water and infrastructure."

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and his counterparts from Turkey and Iraq, Ahmet Davutoglu and Hoshyar Zebari respectively, attended the talks. Also at the closed-door meeting were Egypt's deputy foreign minister for African affairs, Hamdy Louza, and Lebanese Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas.

"It's necessary that countries around the world, not only countries of the region, keep their borders open to Syrian refugees and facilitate access to their territories with more open policy and global responsibility," Guterres told reporters.

"Support needs to massively increase in the months to come. The problem is not only humanitian. It has become structural for the economies and societies of host countries."

In December, the UN appealed for around $6.5 billion (S$8.15 billion) for victims of Syria's war, and $2.3 billion was pledged at a Kuwait donors' conference in January.

According to the UNHCR, Lebanon is officially home to more than one million Syrian refugees, while more than 700,000 have fled to Turkey.

Jordan has taken in nearly 600,000 refugees, and around 220,000 are in Iraq and 136,000 in Egypt.

Guterres called for a political solution to war in Syria.

"There is no humanitarian solution and also no military solution to this crisis. The solution is political. There is a war that nobody is wining. Everybody is losing," he said.

"We must come together to create conditions for humanitarian access inside Syria and for all Syrians everywhere. A political solution is needed to end this bloodshed."

The conflict has killed more than 150,000 people since March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, with half of the population estimated to have fled their homes.