The number of Syrian refugees living in poverty in neighbouring countries continues to grow, despite significant progress in assisting them, according to a new report by the United Nations refugee agency.
Providing access to basic services for the 4.8 million Syrian refugees living in host countries in the Middle East remains "a critical challenge", the UNHCR's report said on Tuesday.
In Lebanon, the average debt held by refugee households increased over the first quarter of this year and the number of people living below the poverty line has risen to 70 per cent compared to 50 per cent in 2014, the report found.
In Jordan, 90 per cent of registered Syrian refugees in urban areas are below the national poverty line, while over 67 per cent of families are living in debt. In Egypt, some 62,000 refugees are living in poverty.
"With the Syria conflict into its sixth year, host governments and communities continue to bear a heavy political, economic, social and security burden. Public institutions are under extreme pressure to deliver basic services to an increasingly large number of vulnerable people, testing the limits of existing infrastructure," UNHCR said.
UNHCR welcomed recent initiatives by host countries in the region such as work permits issued by Jordan to Syrians and a new regulation allowing Syrian refugee access to employment in Turkey.
But the agency urged donor nations to rapidly honour their "generous funding" pledges, noting that only 30 percent (1.38 billion dollars) out of a 4.55 billion appeal for Syrian refugees and host countries had been received to date.
So far this year, UN agencies and partner charities have delivered cash assistance to 102,853 households, food to 2,035,767 individuals, 1,090,795 primary health care consultations, shelter for 25,148 households and other forms of emergency assistance to refugees and host populations, said the report.
Support was provided to help 5,603 Syrian refugees to find employment in 2016, UNHCR said.