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Two displaced Syrian boys huddle under blankets for warmth at an elementary school that has been turned into a shelter in Damascus. Lee Keath/AP/Press Association Images

Europe pledges an extra €30 million to help Syrians in need

According to the United Nations, about nine million people require assistance in the war-torn country.

THE EUROPEAN UNION is to give an extra €30 million in aid for victims of the Syrian conflict.

The money is a top-up on the donations of €960 million provided by the European Commission since the start of the crisis in 2011.

The funds will be divided between those in need within Syria and refugees living in camps in Jordan and Lebanon. The two neighbouring countries have given shelter to about 60 per cent of the 2.3 million Syrian refugees.

The extra aid will help upgrade basic services such as water and sanitation in the camps there with an aim to reduce health risks caused by inadequately treated wastewater.

In order to avoid a lost generation, the funding will also be used to support UNICEF in its work  to protect refugee children and to promote access to learning for about 400,000 of those at school-going age.

A total of €16 million will go to UNRWA to provide urgent cash assistance to Palestinian refugees from Syria and to help meet the climbing costs associated with the ten-fold increase in the number of Palestinian refugees now facing severe poverty.

An estimated 235,000 Palestinian refugees – around half of the total Palestinian refugee population – are displaced within Syria, having effectively become refugees a second time, and 80 per cent of the total 540,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Syria are now in need of critical assistance.

Last week, the European Commission signed major contracts with United Nations agencies totalling an initial €147 million to deliver vitally needed aid to people affected by the Syrian crisis.

According to the UN, about nine million people (half of the population of Syria) currently require some form of assistance. That figure makes it the greatest humanitarian emergency in decades.

Within Syria, more than 6.5 million people are internally displaced. Meanwhile, 2.3 million people have fled the country because of the violence. According to UNHCR estimates, the refugee population in the region could reach over 4 million by the end of 2014.

The situation has been exacerbated in the past few weeks as Syria witnesses its coldest, harshest winter in years.

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