The UNHCR has recently contracted the International Medical Corps, an international non-governmental organization akin to Doctors Without Borders, to open three clinics in Damascus for the aid of Iraqi refugees living in Syria. ReliefWeb reports:
To date, international NGOs have not been given permission to work with Iraqi refugees in Syria. A limited number of small local charities have been working with UNHCR over the past few years, but the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is UNHCR’s main implementing partner in the country.
IMC will start work at a time when Syrian Arab Red Crescent clinics dedicated to refugee health care are having to cope with rising numbers of Iraqi patients. More than 150,000 refugees have visited the clinics since the beginning of the year, compared to 200,000 for the whole of last year.
Meanwhile, the UNHCR continues to report that its lack of funding for Iraqi refugees will lead lead to dramatic cuts in aid programs, ranging from food to health to direct financial assistance:
Health programmes for Iraqis could be drastically reduced and the provision of some specialized medical interventions might come to a complete halt. By August, UNHCR will not be able to cover all basic health needs of Iraqis, and many seriously ill Iraqis will not be able to receive their monthly medication.
Since January, 150,000 Iraqis in Syria and close 19,000 in Jordan received basic health care assistance. With health facilities compromised in many parts of Iraq and many doctors no longer available, a growing number of ailing Iraqis are becoming refugees as they leave home in search of medical care elsewhere.
The UNHCR claims that it lacks the $127 million of the $261 million it asked of the international community in January for the Iraqi refugee relief effort. Compare the shortfall of $127 million with the cost of Iraq war spending by the United States, which is $341.4 million per day according to the the National Priorities Project.