“The original expectation was that this was going to be a short wave of people that would quickly recede,” said the EU’s humanitarian commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, who has twice visited Zaatari in recent months. “It has taken more than a year to recognize that this conflict is going to be long. We need urban managers, we need planners. We need permanent solutions.”
Throughout the year, the UN has steadily increased its humanitarian aid appeal, which now stands at US$5 billion — the largest amount the global body has ever sought for a single crisis. The money would not just help refugees, but assist Lebanon and Jordan to make the enormous social adjustments required to deal with rapidly expanding populations.
Guterres said he was not optimistic the target would be reached. Gulf donors in particular, such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, prefer to fund their own humanitarian activities rather than contributing to the general pot.
Needs are outstripping even the money raised so far. “The conflict produces more victims faster than our collective capacity to help,” said Georgieva. “When we look at the prospects, one that we all have to face is that this conflict is creating a large risk of sectarian cleansing. This is how Srebrenica happened, how Rwanda happened, by gradually building up this enormous wave that leads to catastrophic consequences. This is the [crisis] that makes me lose sleep.”