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“We are almost not enough”

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BEIRUT (AP) – At the age of 19, Fatima al-Omar is at the end of her mind. In the last year alone, he lost his home fighting in the last enclave controlled by the Syrian rebels, and his mother was diagnosed with cancer. He became the sole breadwinner of his mother, the grandmother of his three brothers, when they moved between the shelters.

The coronavirus then struck, exacerbating conditions in northwestern Syria, where new fighting has wiped out 1 million people, the largest wave of deportations in the country in 10 years of war. By the end of 2020, al-Omar was infected with COVID-19, his latest olive harvest. He has not been able to find work since then, and is now in danger of being evicted again.

“It was difficult, but it was getting harder and harder,” al-Omar said by telephone as he moved from his last home to Binnish, a small rebel-held town in Idlib province.

Despite the deteriorating humanitarian situation in war-torn Syria, it has become increasingly difficult to raise money from global donors to help people like Al-Omar. The aid community is preparing for a significant donor conference ahead of a donors’ conference in Brussels on Monday, hosted by the United Nations and the European Union.

The mortgages had already stopped before the coronavirus epidemic, mainly due to donor fatigue. Officials fear that by boosting the global economic downturn, international aid to Syria is set to strike again when it is most needed.

The epidemic throughout Syria has exacerbated the worst economic crisis since the conflict began in 2011. The local currency has collapsed, and food prices have risen by 222% over the previous year. Nine out of 10 people live below the poverty line և հյուս In northwestern Syria, about three-quarters of the 4.3 million people are without food.

According to the UN, 13.4 million people in Syria, more than half of the country’s pre-war population, need help. This is a 20% increase over the previous year.

“We do not have enough money to provide all the necessary services,” said Mark Katz, UN Under-Secretary-General for Syria.

“It’s still just a struggle for survival for all these people, often suffering the most, women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities.”

The United Nations and other aid groups are seeking more than $ 4 billion in aid at this year’s conference in Syria, their biggest complaint to date. Another $ 5.8 billion is needed for the estimated 6 million Syrian refugees who have fled their homeland.

Promises usually do not last for years. The humanitarian call for 2020 was 45% lower than its $ 3.82 billion figure, a 14% drop from the previous year.

“We are fully aware that donor countries also have a COVID impact, that budgets are tightening,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “But precisely because of the same epidemic that is affecting budgets, this is not the time to leave.”

Coronavirus epidemic restrictions in the rebel-held area further slowed economic activity by closing schools and reducing trade and movement with Turkey, the enclave’s gateway to the world.

Women and children are forced to find low-paying, high-risk jobs, including garbage minors, begging, or recruiting by armed groups. Aid groups report reports of suicide attempts among young men and adolescents.

One in three children is out of school, up from 70% a year earlier, says Amjad Yamin of Save the Children.

The World Food Program has cut its monthly food basket throughout Syria to distribute existing funding to prevent a reduction in the number of people arriving. This meant a reduction of 2,100 calories per person to a 40% reduction of 1,264. Some families say the rice content in the basket has dropped by half.

At the same time, due to the epidemic, water needs have increased by 40%, but funding is not continuing. In a letter to the Associated Press, local NGOs told donors that the cuts could force the closure of up to 55 water plants in northwestern Syria, denying nearly 740,000 people access to water.

“The gaps are huge,” said CER International Tu Jacobsen.

Reports of projected aid cuts – up to 67% from some of the largest donors – have leaked emails. By mail or transferred during private meetings. Aid workers tried to adjust budgets, plan cuts.

The cuts could also put thousands of people out of work and force them to close several evacuation camps, according to a letter released by the AP.

It was already a struggle for Al-Omar օգն to get help for his family.

As his family lost their home, they received no food aid. The savings were used to pay for part of her mother’s cancer treatment. Charity և Local donations funded the rest, including long-term medical trips to Turkey. Cash assistance that helped him pay the rent is not guaranteed.

Al-Omar’s warehouse, where he kept food supplies such as pickles and jams, is empty. “We have nothing. We do not have water. “No food,” said al-Omar, whose father left the family 11 years ago. “We are below zero.”

Al-Omar’s best job was to work from home, sew masks, and earn about $ 7 for 1,500 masks. It meant staying safe, taking care of his brothers and sisters. But he lost it when he moved to Binnish, where rent is cheaper.

A year after the deportation, he dreams of a place in one of the deportees’ camps. “It would be better than moving all this,” he said. “This is exhausting.”

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