Lack of funding leads to World Food Program cuts for Syrian refugees – a dangerous development, says Oxfam

The World Food Programme has announced it is to significantly reduce food vouchers for refugees living outside of camps in Jordan in August, while maintaining the same levels of assistance for camp residents, due to a lack of funding. Over a third of registered refugees in Jordan will have their assistance reduced to about a quarter of what they originally received through the program. The most vulnerable refugees will see their assistance reduced to USD$14, about half of what they originally received through the program, and others will have their assistance reduced to USD$7. In Lebanon, the value of each voucher has been cut from US$27 to US$19, and is now US$13.50 per person per month. WFP says it needs to raise US$26 million every week to meet the basic food needs of people affected by the Syrian conflict.

Andy Baker, who heads Oxfam's Syria crisis response, said: “Today, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees living outside of camps in Jordan will see the food assistance they receive from the World Food Programme drastically reduced. In Lebanon, the steady decrease in aid has led to vouchers being sliced in half for all refugees. This is an unprecedented and dangerous development, due foremost to lack of international funding, and the protracted nature of the crisis. Two of the smallest countries in the Middle East will now be hosting more than 1.5 million Syrians with little to no subsistence support. Many refugees have already started resorting to extreme measures to feed their families, by sending children to work, taking debt which they will not be able to repay, or cutting back on meals.

“Donors need to come forward with funds urgently to ensure Syrians are able to meet their basic needs. There are a number of means through which this can be achieved. We should not wait for a situation, which is already dire, to worsen. Syrians also need to be enabled to provide for their families themselves, by accessing the job market in Lebanon and Jordan, where labour laws are stringent. By allowing refugees to seek livelihood solutions, these two countries would help avert a human tragedy, and, in the longer term, boost their own economies while improving refugees' chances of supporting themselves in the future."

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