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AMMAN, Jordan. December 11, 2018. The United Nations has begun a “one-off” delivery of 11,200 tonnes of humanitarian aid to 650,000 people in Syria.

Over the next four weeks, some 369 trucks representing six UN agencies and one NGO are using the Jaber/Nassib border crossing between Syria and Jordan (pictured), reopened in October after a three-year hiatus.

“This is a major logistical operation in an effort to mitigate the suffering of the Syrian people,” said Anders Pedersen, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Jordan. “We greatly appreciate the cooperation of the Jordanian authorities for their full support and commitment in making this a reality.”

Syria Jordan Nassib crossingThe last cross border UN operation to Syria from Jordan was on June 25 this year. Since then the Syrian government has retaken control of its southern border. Across the country humanitarian actors, including UN agencies and NGOs, are trying to reach 13 million people in need, including 6.2 million internally displaced.

A report published this month by the Moving Energy Initiative (MEI) says humanitarian agencies spent US$1.2 billion on diesel and gasoline last year, and despite a UN commitment to carbon neutrality by 2020 there’s no effort by aid organisations to lessen their fossil-fuel dependency.

The MEI surveyed 21 aid actors in Burkina Faso, Kenya and Jordan recently and determined they pay too much for fuel, have no incentive to change, and there’s little transparency in their budgeting process.

According to report authors Owen Grafham and Glada Lahn, the aid sector could save at least 10 percent of fuel costs on ground transport, 37 percent through behaviour change and more efficient technologies, and 60 percent on energy generation – all using currently available, affordable and proven practice and technology changes. “At current prices, this could mean operational savings of over US$517 million a year for the humanitarian sector, roughly equal to 5.0 percent of UNHCR’s funding gap for 2017.”

Grafham and Lahn say adopting sustainable energy practices through fleet sharing and fuel management would help humanitarian agencies build positive relations with host-country governments and societies. They cite a case in Jordan, where the installation of solar plants for two major refugee camps are saving UNHCR US$7.5 million annually while relieving pressure on the national electricity grid, and providing a legacy asset for local communities.

The MEI is a collaboration between Energy 4 Impact, Chatham House, Practical Action, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and UNHCR, with funding from the UK Department for International Development.

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