1.7 Million Syrian Refugees To Lose Their Main Source of Food Aid

Share:

A Syrian refugee woman with her children prepares food near her tent as a heavy snowstorm batters the region, in a camp for Syrians who fled their country’s civil war, in the Chouf mountain town of Ketermaya, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

December 1, 2014

The United Nations World Food Programme predicted “disastrous” results Monday as it suspended aid to more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees for lack of funding.

Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, the program has helped Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt — most of them women and children — purchase food in local shops via a voucher program.

Pleading for donations, WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin said the suspension comes at an especially bad time for families trying to make it through the harsh winter. The U.N.’s resources have been taxed by other international crises, including the Ebola outbreak that has spread from West Africa.

“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 neighboring host countries,” Cousin said in a statement. “The suspension of WFP food assistance will be disastrous for many already suffering families.”

Earlier this year, the Norwegian Refugee Council estimated that 9,500 Syrians were being displaced every day — a rate of one family per minute — which made Syria’s displacement crisis the biggest and fastest-growing in the world. In April, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had registered nearly 2.6 million Syrian refugees, in addition to more than 6.5 million people displaced within Syria.

The refugees live in camps and de facto settlements, the WFP said. Children in Lebanon and Jordan are especially ill-equipped for winter, as many have no shoes or proper clothing. Fuel, electricity and clean water are often scarce.

The WFP said it needs $64 million in order to support the refugees in December. If the funding arrives in time, the program will immediately resume helping. The operation has so far contributed about $800 million to the countries hosting the refugees.

Without the U.N., local non-government organizations and charities, including Turkey’s Red Crescent, will do their best to help, said U.N. spokeswoman Bettina Luescher. But it is unclear whether anyone can fill the void.

“The donors too are stretched,” Luescher told FRONTLINE in an e-mail. “But it is a nightmare for an aid worker to tell a mother that she will not get food for her child.”

Earlier this year, the FRONTLINE documentary Syria’s Second Front looked at the civil war in Syria and the rise of ISIS. You can watch it here:


In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

Rural Health and Hospitals: A Focus on Texas
In 2020, the U.S. experienced the highest number of rural hospital closures in more than a decade.
April 22, 2021
Fight for Healthcare Access in Rural East Texas Continues as Some of the State’s Hospitals Face Closures
Texans in rural communities are facing an ongoing crisis as hospitals and medical facilities shutter. Randy Lindauer has spent the last few months renovating a hospital in East Texas, preparing it to reopen after it closed in 2019 — leaving about 56,000 residents without access to basic or emergency healthcare.
April 22, 2021
County will provide testing for neighbors of Florida’s lead smelter
The move was prompted by a Tampa Bay Times investigation that found hundreds of workers at the smelter were exposed to high amounts of toxic chemicals.
April 22, 2021
A Timeline of Domestic Extremism in the U.S., from Charlottesville to January 6
According to data from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, there were 405 terror attacks or plots in the U.S. from 2015 through 2020 — more than double the total number in the previous decade. A timeline of significant incidents tracks how domestic extremism has evolved in recent years.
April 21, 2021