Aid focus shifts to most vulnerable Syrians and Iraqis because of winter

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One of the UN's top refugee coordinators has warned that tough choices must be taken to help people fleeing the fighting in Syria and Iraq now that winter has arrived.

Amin Awad, who is the UNHCR's Regional Refugee Coordinator for Syria, told reporters in Geneva that the agency must prioritise help according to factors including the altitude of its camps, where winter hits first.

Mr Awad added that the agency is also focusing aid on the most vulnerable who are at risk from freezing temperatures, wind, rain and snow; namely newborn babies and children below five, the elderly, and the sick.

A sharp increase in the number of internally displaced people in Iraq has made the problem worse, Mr Awad said, with around one million people moved by fighting there since June and the same number by tribal clashes previously.

In total, there are some 13.6 million internally displaced people and refugees in Iraq and Syria, Mr Awad said.

His comments come as the UNHCR reported that funding is insufficient to help those in need, with an overall shortfall of at least 58 million dollars.

"I wish we could support everybody and I wish we could keep them warm; the reality is that the population moved and continues to move in this latter part of 2014 and the funding continues to trickle in slowly. And we reach a point where it is the second week of November and winter is here, so with that we really have to prioritise, and prioritise and prioritise, make tough choices, and yet we wish that we have the funding today." (26″)

Daniel Johnson, United Nations.

Duration:  1’34″


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