June 20, 2013

Handicap International: Countries Hosting Syrian Refugees at Breaking Point

Takoma Park, Maryland — Fighting in Syria has forced more than 1.6 million people to flee the country and bordering nations, including Jordan and Lebanon, each expect to host one million Syrian refugees by the end of 2013. Today, on this World Refugee Day, Handicap International is reiterating its serious concerns about the lack of resources available to adequately support these refugees. Handicap International calls on international funding bodies and the United Nations to provide the appropriate resources and coordination to meet both current and future needs.

"Imagine what this influx of a population, with all its needs, represents," says Thierry-Mehdi Benlahsen, Handicap International's Regional Emergency Response Coordinator. “Hospitals are at breaking point, there is a serious lack of accommodation, and the quite exceptional solidarity shown by the inhabitants of the host countries may well reach its limits if the international community does not provide an appropriate response to the situation.”

“In the best case scenario, the funding made available by the international community will cover the needs identified four months ago," says Benlahsen. "In the meantime, the situation has deteriorated and the NGOs do not have the resources they need to cope."

Worldwide, at the beginning of 2012, 15 million people had been forced to leave their home countries in the wake of a natural disaster or conflict. In recent statements, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has warned that this figure could reach a record high due to the crisis in Syria.

Handicap International has been working with Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon since the summer of 2012 and inside Syria itself since the beginning of 2013. The organization provides rehabilitation care to people with injuries and disabilities and raises awareness about the risks of unexploded ordnance.

“Every day our staff bears witness to the incredible suffering of displaced Syrians, many of whom have devastating injuries and post-traumatic stress,” says Elizabeth MacNairn, executive director of Handicap International’s US office. “We’re calling on the international community to commit the necessary resources to care for these extremely vulnerable people and to work to end the conflict in Syria once and for all.”

About Handicap International
Co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is an independent international aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 30 years. Working alongside persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our actions and testimony focus on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions, and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since 1982, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization's principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and winner of the 2011 Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Handicap International takes action and campaigns in places where “standing tall” is no easy task.

Contacts
Mica Bevington, Director of Marketing and Communications
Handicap International US
+1 (240) 450-3531
mbevington@handicap-international.us

Molly Feltner, Marketing and Communications Officer
Handicap International US
+1 (240) 450-3528
mfeltner@handicap-international.us

Contact:

Mica Bevington, Director of Communications and Marketing
Handicap International US
 +1 (240) 450-3531
 mica_bevington@yahoo.co.uk