Sunday

22nd May 2022

Russia's war in Ukraine hitting Palestinian refugees

  • Some 438,000 Palestine refugees are in Syria. (Photo: Reuters/Omar Sanadiki)
Listen to article

Russia's war in Ukraine is driving refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan into further poverty.

Among them are Palestinians who are also facing rising food and energy prices, exacerbating already dire conditions.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The UN agency helping Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, says the war in Ukraine has also led to severe funding shortfalls in some of its core programmes.

The agency says it has only received 13.5 percent from a total of some $365m [€347m] in additional humanitarian appeal to help Palestinians in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

"Their food insecurity is getting worse and worse, you know, almost on a monthly basis," Prafulla Mishra, deputy director of UNRWA in Syria.

"If you compare it to February 2021, the national average food basket is 71 percent higher," he said.

He said over 90 percent of Palestinian refugees in Syria live in poverty.

Some Middle East nations rely heavily on wheat and other grains from both Ukraine and Russia.

For example, Lebanon imports almost 60 percent of its wheat from Ukraine. Its main grain silos had also been destroyed following the 2020 explosion at the port in Beirut.

Others, like Syria, rely on Russia but with prices spiking due to the economic fallout of Covid and the war, more and more people are falling below the poverty line.

UNRWA says those most affected are also the most vulnerable, or people like refugees who are already struggling to get by.

Jordan has some 2.3 million Palestinian refugees, followed by 430,000 in Syria and 220,000 in Lebanon.

Conditions prior to the war were already bad in all three, it said, citing the economic impact of Covid and ongoing conflicts.

The price of food has tripled in Lebanon, said UNRWA's Lebanon director Claudio Cordone.

Jobs are already scarce in Lebanon, where state corruption and impunity have only compounded the misery.

He said those Palestinians that were refugees in Syria and have since settled in Lebanon are among the worst affected. Almost 70 percent have cut their meals, he said.

"We [UNRWA] are more and more their lifeline," he said.

"The assistance that we provide is not sufficient, but it's critical for many of them," he said, noting that some are taking boats to find a better life elsewhere.

Earlier this week, a boat with dozens of people had left Lebanon's Tripoli towards Italy. At least six people drowned after it was stopped by the Lebanese navy.

"The Palestinians are not yet in large numbers on these boats, but we know that they also try to leave via Turkey," he said.

Similar observations were made in Jordan.

Although more stable when compared to Lebanon and Syria, the plight of Palestinians also remains dire.

"The situation is deteriorating," said Jordan's UNRWA deputy director, Olaf Becker.

Becker said the war in Ukraine has also meant some of the funding geared towards UNRWA has been delayed.

The comments come ahead of a Brussels donor conference for Syria set to take place next month.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU countries pledge to host 10,000 Iraqi refugees

EU countries would host "on a voluntary basis" up to 10,000 Iraqi refugees currently living in camps in Syria and Jordan, the bloc's interior ministers have decided on Thursday.

Syria donor conference shuns Russia

Russia was not invited to an international donor conference on Syria in Brussels given its war in Ukraine. Moscow had also recently threatened to veto a humanitarian corridor from Turkey to Syria.

EU states warn of looming food-price crisis

Prices of cereals, fertilisers, and oilseed have shot up drastically in several European markets due to Russia's war on Ukraine, prompting some member states to seek EU aid.

Podcast

Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow

Vladimir Putin's Ukraine war has threatened to be a public relations disaster for hard-right gatherings like the Conservative Political Action Conference — now meeting in Budapest and featuring Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who remains highly-cordial with the Kremlin.

Opinion

Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?

Valdimir Putin's equivalent to Nato — the Collective Security Treaty Organization of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus — is convening in Moscow next week to give cover that Russia is not alone in its war against Ukraine.

News in Brief

  1. UK to send 'hundreds' of migrants to Rwanda each year
  2. Norwegian knife attacks were domestic dispute
  3. Sweden hits back at Turkey's 'disinformation' in Nato bid
  4. Germany's Schröder gives up one of two Russia jobs
  5. G7 countries pledge €18bn in financial aid for Ukraine
  6. Italian unions strike in protest over military aid for Ukraine
  7. Russia cuts gas supply to Finland
  8. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. What Europe still needs to do to save its bees
  2. Remembering Falcone: How Italy almost became a narco-state
  3. Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK
  4. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  5. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  6. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  7. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  8. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us