Food aid to Syrian rebels stopped due to lack of funds

The plight of the three million Syrian refugees was already dire.  Some of the largest refugee camps in the world have been built in Turkey and Jordan, and both sides in the conflict are using starvation as a weapon of war.

The World Food Program is under U.N. auspices but not funded by it.  It gets its donations from both public and private sources and has been distributing food in Syria since the civil war began three years ago.  But the NGO now says it's run out of money and must halt food distribution at the refugee camps, as well as at the makeshift kitchens set up along the border with Jordan.

Telegraph:

More than 1.5 million Syrian refugees are to lose a key lifeline after the World Food Programme, the UN aid arm, ran out of money.

The WFP announced on Monday that it could no longer afford the cost of its main project to help the millions of Syrians who have flooded over the country's borders into Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and beyond since the war started three years ago.

It had been providing food vouchers to 1.6 million people, and said the consequences of its decision would be "disastrous" .

"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," Ertharin Cousin, its executive director, said in a statement urging UN donor countries to contribute more funds.

Well over three million people are estimated to have fled the fighting in Syria, in addition to more than 10 million people who are said to be in need of assistance inside the country, according to UN figures.

Most have gone to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, but there are also refugees receiving vouchers in Egypt and Iraq.

The programme is expensive, costing $35 million a week - as much as the entire aid programme the WFP funds in other countries.

Emilia Casella, a WFP spokeswoman, said the size and complexity of the Syrian crisis had simply overwhelmed potential donors.

"It's so big and so complex, and it's been going on for so long, that it's just very difficult to sustain," she said. "In the vast majority of cases this is the only assistance they get. Food is available but they can't afford it." She said the organisation had stockpiles of food that it was sending inside the country to provide relief there, but that these would run out at the end of January.

Most WFP assistance to refugees outside the country is channeled through vouchers, which can be spent locally.

Despite this boost to the local economy, all three major host nations are facing political pressures because of the sheer numbers of Syrians arriving.

Syrian beggars are now a common sight on the previously increasingly prosperous streets of the major cities of Lebanon and Turkey. Jordan has indicated it will suspend free medical assistance to its 1.3 million Syrian refugees.

The situation in many refugee camps is already deteriorating fast as winter sets in.

Sixty Minutes had a compelling video of the plight of the Syrian refugees and the heroic efforts of World Food Program employees, who often brave snipers and mortar shells to deliver food to starving people.

According to the 60 Minutes report, the U.S. supplies about $1.5 billion to the World Food Program – more than all other countries combined.  This holiday season, you might want to toss the WFP a few dollars and send a prayer their way.  They certainly are going to need all the help they can get.

The plight of the three million Syrian refugees was already dire.  Some of the largest refugee camps in the world have been built in Turkey and Jordan, and both sides in the conflict are using starvation as a weapon of war.

The World Food Program is under U.N. auspices but not funded by it.  It gets its donations from both public and private sources and has been distributing food in Syria since the civil war began three years ago.  But the NGO now says it's run out of money and must halt food distribution at the refugee camps, as well as at the makeshift kitchens set up along the border with Jordan.

Telegraph:

More than 1.5 million Syrian refugees are to lose a key lifeline after the World Food Programme, the UN aid arm, ran out of money.

The WFP announced on Monday that it could no longer afford the cost of its main project to help the millions of Syrians who have flooded over the country's borders into Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and beyond since the war started three years ago.

It had been providing food vouchers to 1.6 million people, and said the consequences of its decision would be "disastrous" .

"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," Ertharin Cousin, its executive director, said in a statement urging UN donor countries to contribute more funds.

Well over three million people are estimated to have fled the fighting in Syria, in addition to more than 10 million people who are said to be in need of assistance inside the country, according to UN figures.

Most have gone to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, but there are also refugees receiving vouchers in Egypt and Iraq.

The programme is expensive, costing $35 million a week - as much as the entire aid programme the WFP funds in other countries.

Emilia Casella, a WFP spokeswoman, said the size and complexity of the Syrian crisis had simply overwhelmed potential donors.

"It's so big and so complex, and it's been going on for so long, that it's just very difficult to sustain," she said. "In the vast majority of cases this is the only assistance they get. Food is available but they can't afford it." She said the organisation had stockpiles of food that it was sending inside the country to provide relief there, but that these would run out at the end of January.

Most WFP assistance to refugees outside the country is channeled through vouchers, which can be spent locally.

Despite this boost to the local economy, all three major host nations are facing political pressures because of the sheer numbers of Syrians arriving.

Syrian beggars are now a common sight on the previously increasingly prosperous streets of the major cities of Lebanon and Turkey. Jordan has indicated it will suspend free medical assistance to its 1.3 million Syrian refugees.

The situation in many refugee camps is already deteriorating fast as winter sets in.

Sixty Minutes had a compelling video of the plight of the Syrian refugees and the heroic efforts of World Food Program employees, who often brave snipers and mortar shells to deliver food to starving people.

According to the 60 Minutes report, the U.S. supplies about $1.5 billion to the World Food Program – more than all other countries combined.  This holiday season, you might want to toss the WFP a few dollars and send a prayer their way.  They certainly are going to need all the help they can get.