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The news of the ugly, modern warfare occurring in Syria is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to the problem of Syria’s civil war. Despite obstacles, many agencies are doing their best to get humanitarian aid to civilians. In particular, USAID helps Syria by funding many organizations within the United Nations (U.N.), through non-government organizations (NGOs), and its own programs. Here are six specific groups that USAID helps fund.

6 Ways USAID Helps Syria

  1. USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART): DART currently has teams deployed to Turkey and Jordan. They are on standby in case of a sudden and large-scale displacement of Syrian refugees, or for any other humanitarian needs caused by the conflict in Syria.
  2. USAID/Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA): USAID/OFDA funds U.N. and NGO sponsored programs. This department has helped provide medical care to Syrians by helping the U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has been able to evacuate patients out of conflict zones, as well as identify and vaccinate against a recent measles outbreak. USAID/OFDA also funded NGOs to train Syrian medical staff, provide medical supplies, and vaccinate against polio.
  3. The Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM): USAID is funding the U.N. World Food Program and U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, which have been able to report on food and crop security in Syria. The CFSAM report shows that less food is being produced in Syria. With this information, the U.N. is able to respond with appropriate food deliveries.
  4. The World Food Programme (WFP): USAID gave $79,812,417 to the WFP’s work in Syria during the 2016 fiscal year. This does not include the funding given to the WFP for use in neighboring countries. In January, the WFP delivered food to 3.6 million people in Syria. The WFP has also given food assistance to conflict-isolated people in the Jordan-Syrian border towns. Finally, the WFP has given more than 1.6 million Syrian refugees food vouchers on debit cards.
  5. The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF): UNICEF is helping in Syria and in neighboring countries. Within Syria, UNICEF is bringing six million liters of water daily. This is estimated to help 400,000 people in the country. UNICEF is helping Syrian refugees as well. Last November and December, they provided $28 clothing vouchers for Syrian refugee children in Jordan to buy winter clothing. These vouchers were given to 128,430 Syrian children. UNICEF is also offering psychosocial support to Syrian refugee children in Turkey. In January, they helped 7,200 children. UNICEF is also helping refugees by providing social services.
  6. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): The U.N. organization, OCHA, received $3,000,000 from USAID in the 2016 fiscal year. As a result, OCHA has been able to present reports on the humanitarian crisis in Syria. As a result of this important work, the world now knows if humanitarian aid is able to get into Syria, citizens are impacted by aid disruptions and by the state of facilities and infrastructure throughout Syria.

While these examples are encouraging, Syria is still struggling to receive humanitarian aid being offered. In many cases, battles between the al-Assad regime and the rebel forces prevent aid workers from reaching citizens. In some cases, the Islamic State has deliberately blocked aid organizations from repairing infrastructure.

Yet, the world is persistent and continues to fund humanitarian aid to Syria. USAID helps Syria in even more ways than are listed here. Also, the USAID website implores people to donate to NGO’s working in Syria.

It’s dispiriting to watch what unfolds in Syria and hard to imagine how Americans can help. Another way we can help is to tell Congress to support the USAID budget. As few as seven calls from constituents have been known to impact the legislation that a congressman or senator supports.

Mary Katherine Crowley

Photo: Flickr

Top 3 USA Disaster Relief Efforts
When disaster strikes anywhere in the world, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance exercises their essential role in providing relief to those in need. Each year the OFDA responds to around 65 disasters in over 50 countries gaining funding and partnership from USAID and other government agencies. This important role that the United States plays in other countries has saved countless lives and aided in disaster relief for a plethora of countries and cultures across the globe. Three of the top efforts made by the OFDA in 2015 include the flooding in Burma Myanmar, a powerful earthquake in Nepal, and the outbreak of the Ebola Virus in West Africa.

Flooding in Myanmar (Burma)

Large amounts of flooding in Myanmar have forced around 500,000 people to flee their homes in search of safety. USAID was able to successfully supply $50 million in humanitarian funding for those affected. The USAID Office of Food for Peace is providing $8.4 million in emergency food assistance to combat the added struggle of malnutrition many are now facing. The OFDA’s $7.3 million funds health care, protection, shelter, water sanitation and basic hygiene needs. This money helps those still struggling in Myanmar as well as those who have fled the country and are forced to build new lives from the ground up.

Earthquake in Nepal

When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook Nepal in an area just north of Kathmandu, USAID sprung into action in a big way. Around 6 million people were affected, not only in Nepal but also reaching into China, India and Bangladesh. With more than 9,000 killed and another 25,000 injured, the U.S. supplied $130 million to help the survivors. Within hours of the earthquake hitting, a Disaster Assistance Response Team deployed to organize the disaster relief effort. The USAID hospital preparedness project worked with 11 major hospitals, the largest of which was successful in treating 700 patients and executing 300 surgeries within the first 24 hours after the quake.

Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

As of Oct. 9, 2015, there were 28,429 confirmed cases of Ebola with another 11,297 in estimated deaths from the disease. In order to contain the spread of the disease and help those afflicted with it, the U.S. was able to provide $2,320,249,091 to West Africa. The progress has been outstanding with the WHO reporting no new cases of the disease from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4. This marks the first time since March 2014 that a week has passed with no reported cases of Ebola. The achievement of this success came from the massive amount of aid that funded food security, health services, technology, economic crisis mitigation, global health security agenda and other functions of disaster relief.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr