In Jordan, head of UN food relief agency urges increased funding for Syrian refugees

View over Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan housing over 80,000 Syrian Refugees, which will on 29 July 2015, mark three years since it was set up. Photo: UNHCR/C. Herwig

12 August 2015 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has voiced concern over the deteriorating conditions of Syrian refugees now residing in Jordan amid funding shortfalls and urged the international donor community to ramp up financing for ongoing humanitarian efforts in the Middle Eastern country.

Returning from a visit to Jordan where she met with Syrian refugee families, WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin warned today that cuts in the value of voucher assistance, combined with reductions in support from other humanitarian agencies, have had a negative impact on the food security of the majority of refugees, forcing many to take drastic measures.

“I met Khaldiyeh, a single mother of eight who is struggling to feed her children and says she could be evicted at any moment because the little money she has, she spends on food for her family,” Ms. Cousin confirmed in a press release issued earlier this morning. “I also met a group of boys who have big dreams that they will not be able fulfil unless they can go to back to school. Now they are working to help feed their families.”

WFP's food voucher programme for Syrian refugees in the Middle East is the largest in the world, and is funded entirely by voluntary contributions. Nearly 1.6 million Syrian refugees, spread across five countries in the region, are assisted through WFP food vouchers every month.

However, recent funding shortfalls have forced the UN agency to cut the level of assistance it provides to nearly half a million Syrian refugees living outside Jordanian refugee camps. Currently, the WFP requires an additional $45 million to continue providing vital food assistance to over half a million Syrians living in Jordan until the end of the year.

“We are calling upon the donor community to recognize the suffering of our Syrian brothers and sisters and to continue to give generously so we can support desperate families until they can go home,” Ms. Cousin continued. “We need those who have given to give more, and those who haven't given to invest in our work and in the future of Syria.”

The four-year Syria conflict has generated a steady outflow of almost 4 million refugees into neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, burdening those countries' infrastructures and leading to overcrowded settlements where many refugees struggle amid high unemployment and precarious services.

According to the latest data available, Turkey alone is host to 1,772,535 registered Syrian refugees – more than any other in the world – with about 259,000 living in 23 camps set up and managed by the Government.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian impact of the crisis is only further compounded by the grim human toll which, as of today, counts 220,000 people killed and over one million injured since hostilities began.


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Funding shortfall forces UN agency to make cuts in food aid to Syrian refugees

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