The World Food Programme is facing critical funding shortages, which have forced the UN food agency to halve the level of assistance it provides to almost 1.3 million vulnerable Syrian refugees and internally displaced people.
Having received only a fraction of its funding requirements, WFP has been forced to drastically decrease food ration to only 74 percent of its intended size. And with the value of food vouchers reduced, most refugees are now living on around 50 cents a day, have to eat smaller meals and less frequently.
Um Jihad, a Syrian woman who fled the town of Hassakeh together with her family and is now living in the Tadamoun neighborhood of Damascus, said that a reduction of the WFP food rations she currently receives, will critically impact her children’s health. She said, “it will affect us a lot. It will be very bad, especially because we don’t have work. It will affect the diet of the whole family, especially the children. They need to eat or they will starve.”
In September, over 360,000 refugees living in countries bordering with Syria, also saw a significant reduction of food assistance. This includes 229,000 refugees in Jordan and more than 131,000 in Lebanon. Abeer Etfa, a WFP spokesperson, gave a rather bleak outlook of the situation on the ground. She said, “this month WFP has had to reduce the level of assistance for families inside Syria by almost a quarter. Families are receiving less food. In the neighboring countries almost all refugees have had the value of their vouchers reduced by 50 percent.”
Every month, WFP distributes family food rations to displaced and conflict-affected families across the country. These rations contain staple food items including rice, bulgur wheat, pasta, lentils, canned food, sugar, salt, cooking oil and wheat flour. Around four million people benefit from this assistance every month.