US, Turkey discuss humanitarian assistance for Syrian refuges out of access

US, Turkey discuss humanitarian assistance for Syrian refuges out of access

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
US, Turkey discuss humanitarian assistance for Syrian refuges out of access

Syrian refugees sit by their tent in a Syrian Refugee camp on the Lebanese border town of Arsal, in the eastern Bekaa Dec 15, 2013. REUTERS photo

A U.S. official is having discussions with Turkish officials and civil society organizations in a bid to provide humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees who have been living out of camps in Turkey, mostly on streets, parks or in poor accommodations in urban areas.

“My focus is what the United States and international organizations can do for better work with the Turkish government in providing and expending services to urban refugees in Turkey,” U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Simon Henshaw said Dec. 16, speaking to a group journalists.

The major reason for his trip to Turkey is to consult with Turkish officials, both inside the government and outside the government, on how they can enhance assistance for Syrian refugees, he said.

They have discussed many options, the U.S. official said, but he did not want to elaborate on details because the discussions are still continuing.

More than two thirds of the 700,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey live in urban areas, not in camps, Henshaw said, emphasizing the lack of assistance to those particular refugees as winter comes.

They not only want to provide service in urban areas, but they are trying to get information on what refugees need, he noted.

“The humanitarian assistance we provide through international organizations go to all victims of the conflict, whether they are one side or the other,” Henshaw stated.

“The U.S. government applauds the Turkish government and its people’s generosity in hosting refugees from Syria. The U.S. is proud to work hand-in-hand with Turkey in addressing these issues,” he said.

He stressed the Kuwait II donors conference in January is also an important opportunity, in which countries will be asked for contributions. “We cannot afford to waste resources. A coordinated response, using the U.N. appeals process,” he said.

Besides from funding, the lack of access for agencies within Syria is the largest challenge, according to Henshaw. The Syrian regime still inhibits the access of international organizations in large areas, the U.S. official underlined.

There are also some radical opposition groups which do not allow humanitarian access, Henshaw said expressing concern. The U.S. was proud to be the largest outside donor having contributed $1.3 billion since the beginning of the crisis, he noted, adding almost $100 million has come to Turkey.