Refugees: Rattling the tin

THE fighting in Syria and its spread into Iraq have created the worst refugee crisis since the second world war. Since the spring of 2011 nearly half of Syria’s population has been displaced, with 7.6m of those who have had to flee staying within their homeland and 3.3m more in camps abroad. Since the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that in 2013 the number of refugees and internally displaced people worldwide exceeded 50m for the first time since the 1940s, and rose by 6m in 2012 largely due to Syria’s civil war, a further 1m Syrians and 2m Iraqis have been added to that grim total.Dealing with Syrian refugees is now the UNHCR’s largest-ever operation. It and other aid agencies are struggling to cope. The World Food Programme is warning of an impending winter hunger crisis. Earlier this month it briefly suspended a food-voucher scheme for some 1.7m Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries because it had no money to pay for it.On December 8th the UN said it is trying to raise $16.4 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees everywhere, up from the $12.9 billion it sought last year (though even this sum may not include every fundraising effort by the UN’s numerous agencies). More than $7 billion of that total will be spent on those afflicted by the war in Syria. In Berlin on December 18th Germany will host a meeting of governments focused on…

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