UN cuts food aid to 1.7m Syrian refugees

The announcement came as aid groups struggle to prepare millions of refugees for winter.
A picture taken on October 25, 2014, shows Syrian refugees waiting for food aid parcels from a non-governmental organisation in Al Masri refugee camp near the eastern Lebanese town of Arsal. Maya Hautefeuille/AFP Photo
A picture taken on October 25, 2014, shows Syrian refugees waiting for food aid parcels from a non-governmental organisation in Al Masri refugee camp near the eastern Lebanese town of Arsal. Maya Hautefeuille/AFP Photo

BEIRUT // Aid workers fear a major humanitarian crisis for millions of Syrian refugees after funding gaps forced the United Nations to cut food assistance for 1.7 million people.

The UN’s World Food Programme said it needed US$64 million (Dh235m) to fund its food voucher programme for December alone, and that “many donor commitments remain unfulfilled”.

The announcement on Monday came as aid groups struggle to prepare millions of refugees for winter.

“It’s going to be a devastating impact. This couldn’t come at a worse time,” said Ron Redman, regional spokesman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

WFP’s food vouchers were helping nearly two million refugees scattered in countries around the Middle East.

Each refugee receives a card that is topped up with money each month. The amount differs from country to country, but is intended to allow each refugee to buy food equivalent to 2,100 calories per day.

But for most of the agency’s recipients, December’s top-up has not arrived. Worst-hit in the region is Lebanon, where more than 800,000 of the 1.1 million Syrian refugees in the country were receiving WFP food voucher support.

In Jordan, some 450,000 refugees will get no money this month, though around 90,000 living in the UN’s Zaatari and Azraq camps will continue to receive assistance.

In Turkey and Egypt, there are sufficient funds to provide aid until December 13 but not beyond, the WFP said.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: December 2, 2014 04:00 AM

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