The United Nations food aid organization said on Monday that it would suspend assistance to more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees because it had run out of money to support them.
The organization, the World Food Program, said the suspension, taking place immediately, would have “disastrous” consequences for refugees from the Syrian civil war struggling to cope with years of deprivation. Food aid in Syria will come to a halt in February if WFP does not receive additional funds.
The cut in aid will also affect refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey who receive vouchers from the program to exchange for food in local shops. The same mechanism also provides an economic lifeline to communities struggling to cope with the huge influx of Syrian refugees in the last four years.
The food aid cuts “couldn’t come at a worse time,” António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, said in a statement. “It will impact tens of thousands of the most vulnerable refugee families who are almost entirely dependent on international aid.”
The sudden imposition of the cuts highlights the growing strain all humanitarian aid agencies are facing as they try to cope with a long list of emergencies in places like Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and Ukraine.
[New York Times]