Underfunding threatens refugees and host countries

29 June 2015

The $3.47bn funding gap could undermine most basic survival needs

  • UN agencies and NGOs received only 23 per cent of required $5.5bn funding as of 31 May
  • Initiative appeals for timely provision of funding from donor entities
  • 752,000 Syrian refugee children will continue to miss out on education
  • 1.7 million refugees will face the winter without heating fuel, insulation or extra blankets

A $3.47bn gap between the required funding and what has been received by the United Nations (UN) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to tackle the humanitarian crisis arising from the Syrian conflict could undermine the delivery of the most basic survival needs to the refugees hosted by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

A new report, released in Jordan on 25 June by the Regional Refugee Resilience Plan (3RP), highlighted the need to address this issue to allow continuous delivery of humanitarian aid to nearly four million Syrian refugees hosted by these countries.

3RP is an initiative that combines humanitarian support to refugees with development support for host countries. It appealed for $5.5bn in aid from the international community in December 2014. Of these, $1bn was to be allocated for host government requirements and $4.5bn for agency requirements of the UN and relevant NGOs. Of the $4.5bn agency requirements, only $1.06bn, or 23 per cent has been received as of 31 May, leaving a $3.47bn gap.

In a statement, UNHCR’s Antonio Guterres said, “We are so dangerously low on funding that we risk not being able to meet even the most basic survival needs of millions of people over the coming six months.”The 3RP report appealed for the timely provision of funding among its partners as well as the provision of additional resettlement opportunities and other forms of humanitarian admission for Syrian refugees. If left unheeded, the 3RP and its partners warn that “a generation of Syrians would be left behind and neighbouring countries would continue to struggle to provide a public good they cannot and should not have to bear alone.”

3RP counts as partners some 200 national governments, business entities and individuals from the international community. Donors who have so far contributed to the fund in 2015 include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Holy See, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, the UK and US.

The 3RP report outlines the following potential consequences directly resulting from the severe 3RP underfunding:

  • 1.6 million people across the region will have further cuts to their food assistance
  • 1.7 million refugees will face the winter without heating fuel, insulation or extra blankets
  • 752,000 Syrian refugee children will continue to not participate in education
  • 129,000 extremely or severely needy families will not be supported with cash assistance for basic needs.

Meanwhile, the severe shortage in funding to the host countries could result in a number of scenarios that include:

  • Programmes for 100,000 out-of-school children or adolescents in Turkey will not start
  • Daily, 250 women and children in Lebanon will not benefit from medical, emotional or legal support to protect them from early marriage, sexual harassment and negative coping strategies
  • 312,000 people in Jordan will not have access to primary health care
  • 30,000 refugees in Iraq will be living in substandard shelter
  • Almost 2,000 refugees detained in Egypt on charges of attempted illegal departure will remain in detention for prolonged periods with limited or no humanitarian and legal assistance

As of 31 May 2015, the five host countries received an average of 20 per cent of the required funding, with Turkey receiving the least at 14 per cent, or $85m, of the expected $624m funding requirement. Egypt received the least amount at $28m, which is about 15 per cent of its required assistance of $190m. Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq each received $272m, $433m and $104m, which account for 23, 22 and 24 per cent of their required budgets, respectively.

The funding for each host country is spread across multiple sectors that include basic needs, shelter, protection, food security, education and health, among others.

Jordan’s economy, in particular, has taken major hit from the influx of refugees into its borders. It has openly tapped support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help tackle the economic burden of hosting at least 700,000 Syrian refugees, nearly a tenth of its population.  The IMF has also been very forthcoming in supporting Jordan by offering flexible terms including accommodating the fiscal costs related to hosting refugees, most of who have come from Syria.

Gerry Rice, IMF communications department director has cited a USAID assessment in 2014, where the fiscal costs [for supporting refugees in Jordan] have been around 1.4 per cent of [its] gross domestic product (GDP). “Under our program, we have explicitly provided additional fiscal space to accommodate the refugee program and to support Jordan in its efforts,” explained Rice.

3RP Summary: 2015 Planned Beneficiaries and Agency Budget Requirements (Source: 3RP Progress Report, 2015-16)


  • Number of Syrian refugees:  1,700,000
  • Direct beneficiaries: 500,000
  • Indirect beneficiaries: 8.216 million
  • Agency requirements: $624m


  • Number of Syrian refugees:  250,000
  • Direct beneficiaries: 47,941
  • Indirect beneficiaries: 2.397 million
  • Agency requirements: $426m


  • Number of Syrian refugees:  700,000
  • Direct beneficiaries: 138,150
  • Indirect beneficiaries: 2.632 million
  • Agency requirements: $1.191bn


  • Number of Syrian refugees:  1,500,000
  • Direct beneficiaries: 336,000
  • Indirect beneficiaries: 1.422 million
  • Agency requirements: $1.973bn


  • Number of Syrian refugees:  120,000
  • Direct beneficiaries: 34,550
  • Indirect beneficiaries: 5.734 million
  • Agency requirements: $189m

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