The United Nations World Food Programme announced on 1 December that it is suspending a critical programme providing food vouchers to more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees. The announcement was followed with the revelation that the UN's food agency is facing an acute lack of funds.
WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin has revealed via World Food Programme news site that UN agency is in critical need of funding and that many commitments made by donors are yet to be fulfilled. Cousin also said that if the WFP doesn't receive an immediate donation of $64 million, it would be impossible for them to support the Syrian refugees in December.
Under UN's WFP programme, many Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt were equipped with vouchers, using which they could buy food ration -- flour, cooking oil, pulses, sugar and canned food -- from local shops.
Without these food vouchers, many families who are already dreading the impending harsh winter months, will have to go hungry. Most Syrians in refugee camps and informal settlements, especially in Jordan and Lebanon, are not prepared to handle a hard winter; most children are barefoot and lack proper clothing, tents are drenched in mud and hygiene conditions are growing extremely poor.
"A suspension of WFP food assistance will endanger the health and safety of these refugees and will potentially cause further tensions, instability and insecurity in the neighbouring host countries," Cousin appealed to potential donors.
Since the commencement of the operation, UN has used about $800 million to balance the economies of the refugee-hosting countries, which border Syria.
"We are very concerned about the negative impact these cuts will have on the refugees as well as the countries which host them. These countries have shouldered a heavy burden throughout this crisis," reminds Muhannad Hadi, WFP Regional Emergency Coordinator for the Syria Crisis.
As and when the required funding of $64 million arrives, the food programme would resume the aid for Syrian refugees. Those who wish to donate for the Syrian refugees can do so at the World Food Programme's "Syria Emergency" website.