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Writing Sample MEMO

To: Dan Zeitlin


From: Miranda Becker
Date: October 18, 2013
RE: Briefing on Humanitarian Crisis in Syria (10.17.13)
This panel consisted of: Ann Vaughan, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Mercy Corps; Kelly
Clements, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees & Migration at the State
Department; Allan Jury, Senior Advisor, World Food Program USA; and Daryl Grisgraber,
Senior Advocate, Refugees International.
The Syrian crisis is the largest humanitarian crisis since Rwanda, according to the UN, with
similar rates of leaving and sizes of displaced and refugee populations. UN High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR) Antnio Guterres has called Syria "a disgraceful humanitarian calamity
with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history." The situation is worsening as
violence escalates, and as livelihoods and opportunities are simultaneously destroyed.
Some Statistics
2.1 million refugees; 3.5 million expected by end of 2013
o Huge relative to overall Syrian population 1/3 of current population are refugees
5 million internally displaced: U.S. equivalent is 100 million displaced at any given time
6.8 million in Syria affected by the war
By 2014: Internally displaced + conflict-affected = Syrians total population size
Approximately of the refugee population in neighboring countries are children
20,000 children have been born into refugee camps so far
Major Difficulties
1) Access to besieged civilian populations inside Syria
2) Access to unregistered displaced persons or refugees, especially those living outside camps
3) Highly insecure situation has led to hundreds of international and local staff being killed
4) Expense of supplying aid to a large and rapidly-expanding population of affected persons
5) Stress on neighboring and regional countries that are hosting refugee populations
There is a huge danger of starvation and dehydration in towns that are either isolated or besieged.
Long-term denial in certain areas, including Moadamyeh, rural Damascus inaccessible
to the UN (9 attempts in 6 months); Sept. 2013 could not reach Aleppo for food delivery
Medicinal facilities under attack, medicines not allowed past checkpoints seen as aiding
and healing enemy combatants
Camps and Neighborhood Situation
Refugees have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. According to the UNHCR High
Commissioner: The only solace is the humanity shown by the neighboring countries in
welcoming and saving the lives of so many refugees.
60 70% refugees not living in camps, but in cities, making them invisible and difficult
to reach with necessary aid
21 camps in Turkey home to of the Syrian refugee population

1 huge camp in Jordan (Zaatari) decreased acceptance from thousands to hundreds


0 camps in Lebanon 750,000 refugees (American equivalent is 60M entering U.S.)
o 20% of Lebanon population are Syrian refugees now
Egypt: border is officially closed, unofficially open

Further dangers: broader development implications of the refugee inflows into neighboring
countries. The displacement will be protracted and long-term will it destabilize host countries?
Social service impacts on host countries infrastructure and resources
Competition for jobs, medical access, housing, food and water especially within camps
Danger within camps: violence and frustration, especially gender-based violence
Nutrition: World Food Programs Work
The UN World Food Program delivers food aid to affected populations in and out of Syria, with
help from the Syria-Arab Red Crescent and 21 other partners, mainly local, chosen based on
capacity, impartiality, and geographical connections. WFP and partners identify the most needy.
In September 2013, the WFP reached 90% of target (3.7M people, out of 4.1M total)
o 32,000 metric tons of food per month, including flour to urban bakeries for bread
o 1200 trucks to all 14 governorates (provinces), all reached to varying degrees
Inside Syria: reached 3M in Sept. using food packages; intend to reach 4M by end of 2013
Refugees: food aid reached 1M last month; increasing rapidly
o Partnered with MasterCard to distribute electronic vouchers refugees purchase
own food locally; allows monitoring of how much is spent & on what items
Utilize UNHCR registration to track refugees and link to food voucher programs; also
utilize detailed tracking of food trucks & packages to determine their distribution
Messages To The International Community
1) A political solution must be reached; the humanitarian crisis is only escalating.
2) Countries must be burden-sharing, and prop up the host communities as well as the refugees.
3) Providing aid is expensive: huge operation reaching a huge population under extreme and
unstable conditions. More aid is always needed.
Need $30M/week to maintain operations, and cost is increasing. Will need $40M/week
by 2014. This is many countries operating budget for a year.
Emergency and long-term development aid is needed. Education is the least well-funded
sector, but is necessary to prevent teenagers from joining conflict.
o Must equip with skills to become participative now & when return to Syria
o Ten thousands of children are not in school currently, and have not been for years
o WFP is providing school meals in camps to reinforce educational structures
What Congress Can Do: 4 Very Large Roles
1) Messaging: help unaware constituents understand the enormous magnitude of this crisis.
2) Support safety (impartiality) for humanitarian aid workers, along with the UN.
3) Encourage the UN Security Council to lay out a roadmap for expanding reach inside Syria.
4) Funding: financial support for humanitarian aid, delivered through many directions:
International Disaster Assistance Program, Title II Food Aid USAID
Migration & Refugee Assistance State Department
Economic and social development