Arab League Decides to Send Team to Syria Neighbors as Lebanon Asks for $180mn in Aid for Refugees

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Lebanon appealed on Sunday for $180 million from Arab countries to help it meet the Syrian refugee influx that has threatened to bring the number of the displaced to 420,000 in June, as the Arab League decided to send a team to Syria’s neighboring countries to assess the status of refugees ahead of a donor conference in Kuwait on January 30.

Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis agreed to send a team to Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq “to assess the situation of Syrian refugees on the ground,” the Arab League said.

The delegation is to work out the amount of aid required and present its findings to a donor conference hosted by Kuwait on January 30, the League added.

During the meeting, Lebanon appealed for $180 million to help around 200,000 Syrians and around 10,000 Palestinians who have escaped the fighting between rebels seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad and government troops.

“The Lebanese government hopes for Arab support to overcome the crisis,” Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour said during an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.

The number of refugees could rise from 30,000 to 40,000 displaced Syrian and Palestinian each month and could reach 420,000 next June, he said.

The minister warned that the influx is putting additional economic and social burdens on Lebanon. “The situation should be dealt with,” he told the Arab foreign ministers.

He reiterated that the Lebanese government is committed to hosting and protecting the Syrian refugees and would not close the border to any family escaping the fighting and destruction in the neighboring country.

Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, who chaired the meeting, also urged Arab support for the Syrian refugees and called for assisting the Lebanese government in meeting their needs.

He cited their need for housing, education and medical aid.

The number of Syrian refugees registered in neighboring countries and North Africa has jumped by more than 100,000 in the past month to over 600,000, the U.N.’s refugee body said Friday.

Nearly 200,000 are registered in Lebanon, more than 153,000 in Turkey, 69,300 in Iraq, 13,000 in Egypt and over 5,000 in North Africa.

UNHCR said it had registered nearly 176,600 refugees in Jordan, but stressed that the Jordanian government put the total number at around 280,000.

The 22-month long conflict has left over 60,000 people dead, according to the United Nations.

The U.N. has said it expects the number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries will rise to 1.1 million by next June if the war continues.

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