- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Less than 25 percent of the $1.5 billion pledged by the international community for Syrian refugees has been delivered, jeopardizing the humanitarian aid project, U.S. officials say.

“The international community is facing a resource crisis,” Anne Richard, assistant secretary of State for population, refugees and migration, told a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.

“The U.N.’s regional response plan has thus far received only 21 percent of the funds it needs to operate in the first half of calendar year 2013,” Ms. Richard said. “Other donors must quickly provide the funds that agencies need to keep lifesaving operations going.”

During a Jan. 30 meeting in Kuwait, nations led by oil-rich Persian Gulf countries raised more than $1.5 billion to help Syrians affected by the civil war in their country.

“As the humanitarian worst-case scenario becomes the current scenario, we need all countries to contribute,” said Nancy Lindborg, assistant administrator for democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

U.S. diplomats have been urging donors to follow through on the financial commitments they made in Kuwait, and Congress must help in this task, said Ms. Lindborg.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the two-year-old war that has pitted Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime against rebels.

More than 1.1 million refugees have fled to Syria’s neighbors, and about 2.5 million are displaced within Syria.

Widespread destruction means that humanitarian aid will be needed long after the fighting ends, Ms. Richard told the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian affairs.