Syrian Refugees Battered by Winter Need More US Help, Agencies Say

Aid agencies urge the US to increase its help to the refugees.

American non-governmental organizations told ABC News that the U.S. government could provide additional funds for aid agencies to deliver materials like blankets and sweaters, as well as technical assistance coordinating the response by NGOs on the ground.

The U.S. should also use its position as the largest international donor of aid to the Syrian crisis to get other countries to do more, said Holly Frew, a spokesperson for CARE, an international humanitarian organization.

“CARE would like to see the U.S. government continue to be a leader in providing funding for the humanitarian needs, and also leverage their relationships to influence other countries to follow their lead in prioritizing civilians impacted by the escalating conflict in Syria,” Frew said.

“UNHCR is having to make some very tough choices over who to prioritize,” chief spokesperson Melissa Fleming said at the time.

And the U.S. might have a role to play there. “What might be more useful is some sort of technical cooperation in helping the NGOs who do the implementation to find people who can help them” on the ground, she said.

“Our funding is not typically earmarked for specific items, but is distributed to agencies in such a way that allows them the flexibility to put it toward what they need most,” the spokesperson said. “We remain in close communication humanitarian actors on the ground to ensure they have the resources they need to help both Syrians and the communities where they live.”

Grisgraber said regardless of how much money or direction the U.S. and other countries provided, the Syrian refugee crisis, especially through the winter, was an exceptionally difficult challenge, given its scale.

“No matter how well-coordinated the response is, it’s so enormous that it’s going to be so hard for the agencies to keep up,” she said, adding, “Certainly there’s no reason to stop trying.”