Back in September, the UN’s World Food Program warned that it was running out of money to feed the millions of Syrians both inside and outside the country who now rely on the agency for food. The warning was not heeded, pledged cash never turned up, and sure enough, the WFP announced yesterday that it was suspending a food voucher program that provides badly needed assistance to some 1.7 million Syrian refugees:
Under this programme, poor Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt have used vouchers to buy food in local shops. 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.
“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 neighbouring host countries,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, in an appeal to donors. … Cousin said that WFP’s Syria emergency operations are now in critical need of funding. Many donor commitments remain unfulfilled. WFP requires a total of US $64 million immediately to support Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries during the month of December.
Exactly which donor countries are skirting their commitments to the WFP is not entirely clear: