- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The United States is adding $21 million to its humanitarian aid package for people displaced by violence in Syria, U.S. officials said Wednesday amid U.N. reports that more than 100,000 Syrians fled to neighboring countries in August.

“The United States remains deeply concerned by the humanitarian crisis caused by the violence,” said a statement released by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. “We commend the generosity of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq in assisting approximately 240,000 Syrians who have fled.”

Wednesday’s uptick in funding brings the total U.S. humanitarian aid package to more than $100 million, with funds now spread across a variety of international agencies trying to help displaced Syrians filling refugee camps.
About $49 million already has been channeled to the World Food Program, more than $23 million to the U.N.’s main refugee office and some $15 million to nongovernmental groups operating in the region.

U.S. officials said $14.3 million of the new funding will go toward food assistance for conflict-affected people in Syria and $6.7 million to supporting Syrians displaced to neighboring countries.

The United Nations asserts that as many as 2.5 million people in Syria are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance as a result of the civil war raging between various opposition factions and Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.

The exodus of more than 100,000 people from Syria last month represented a significant increase in the refugee crisis stemming from the war. While the Obama administration has supported the uprising against Mr. Assad, the White House remains opposed to offering any direct military aid to the opposition.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said the United States is working closely with partners in the region who are “providing various forms of support” to the Syria rebels.

But on a recent trip to Turkey, where many of the Syrian refugees now are living in camps along the Turkish-Syrian border, Mrs. Clinton raised concerns that direct military aid to the rebels could mean that equipment ends up in the wrong hands.

“We worry about terrorists taking advantage of the legitimate fight of the Syrian people for their freedom to use Syria and to promote their own agendas, and even to perhaps find footholds to launch attacks against others,” she said.



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