18 April 2019
Syrians stand on muddy ground at a refugee camp in Lebanon. Photo: Reuters
Syrians stand on muddy ground at a refugee camp in Lebanon. Photo: Reuters

UN runs out of funds to feed Syrian refugees

More than 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt are facing a hungry winter, the Guardian reported.

The UN World Food Program has run out of funds to issue food vouchers to the exiles.

Since Syria’s civil war began in March 2011, the WFP has brought food to millions of Syrians inside the country.

It has also used the voucher scheme to enable refugees to buy food in shops in their host countries, the newspaper said.

But the WFP has been unable to secure the US$64 million it needs to support the refugees this month.

It announced Monday it was halting the scheme.

Funding shortfalls have already forced the UN body to reduce rations within Syria, where it is trying to help 4.25 million people.

WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin issued a blunt and urgent appeal to donors, asking them to honour their commitments and warning that the suspension would have a devastating effect on the lives of more than 1.7 million people.

She said: “[It] will endanger the health and safety of these refugees and will potentially cause further tensions, instability and insecurity in the neighbouring host countries. The suspension of WFP food assistance will be disastrous for many already suffering families.”

Cousin said Syrian refugees in camps and informal settlements throughout the region were ill-prepared for another difficult winter, especially in Lebanon and Jordan where tents are drenched in mud, hygiene is poor and many children lack shoes and warm clothes.

Last month, another funding shortfall compelled the WFP to halve rations to half a million refugees, mainly from Somalia and South Sudan, who are living in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps in remote areas in northern Kenya.

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