1.7 million Syrian refugees to face hunger


Syrian refugees, fleeing the violence in their country, cross the border into the autonomous Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq. File photo

On Monday the U.N.’s World Food Program suspended a food voucher program serving more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees, citing a funding crisis after many donors failed to meet their commitments.

The program allowed Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt to buy food from local shops with vouchers provided by the WFP.

But with the cutting of the program, “many families will go hungry,” the U.N. agency said in a statement.

“The suspension of WFP assistance will be disastrous for many already suffering families,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, adding it will also “endanger the health and safety of these refugees and will potentially cause further tensions, instability and insecurity in neighboring host countries.”

The agency needs pledges of an additional $64 million to cover aid for December, the WFP said. The agency has spent about $800 million feeding refugees since Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011.

A lack of food will “potentially cause further tensions, instability and insecurity in the neighboring host countries,” Cousin said.

Syria’s 3 ½-year-long civil war has killed more than 200,000 people and touched off a massive humanitarian crisis, forcing more than 3 million to seek refuge abroad and displacing another 6.5 million within the country. Trying to meet the needs of those affected by the crisis has put a tremendous strain on countries that have taken in refugees, as well as organizations that provide humanitarian assistance.

The U.N. agency said that if funding comes through, it will immediately resume the voucher program.


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