Cairo, 8 Shafar 1436/1 Desember 2014 (MINA) – A lack of funds has forced the UN World Food Programme to stop providing food vouchers for 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, the agency said on Monday.
“Without WFP vouchers, many families will go hungry. For refugees already struggling to survive the harsh winter, the consequences of halting this assistance will be devastating,” said WFP, which needs $64 million to support the refugees for the rest of December, Ahram quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
The electronic voucher programme has already injected about $800 million into local shops in the countries hosting refugees, and WFP will immediately resume it if new funding arrives, the statement said.
WFP had warned last month that it might be forced to impose such a suspension and said it might have to announce a similar suspension in January for people reliant on aid within Syria.
The agency has already cut rations for 4.25 million people in Syria.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR has said that a lack of cash has forced it to prioritise as it helps those in need prepare for winter, with preference for people at higher, colder altitudes and vulnerable refugees such as newborn babies.
The hardship at refugees camp
While the problem is most acute in Iraq and Syria, there are also needs in other parts of the region. This will be the fourth winter away from their homes for many Syrian refugees and the first for the 1.9 million Iraqis who have become internally displaced this year.
In the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, winter has already arrived in Dohuk governorate. By December, temperatures can range from +5 degrees Celsius in more temperate areas to minus 16 degrees Celsius in the mountains.
In Iraq, the needs are massive but funding has not kept pace with the new displacement. With 1.9 million IDPs and 225,000 refugees – and 300-500 more arriving daily in northern Iraq from the Syrian border city of Kobane – UNHCR is deeply concerned about the ability of the international community to meet urgent winter needs.
Approximately 800,000 people are in need of shelter assistance, while 940,000 lack basic winter household items. With current funding, UNHCR expects to reach only 240,000 displaced Iraqis with winter aid instead of the 600,000 planned under an inter-agency effort.(T/R04/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)