The World Food
Program’s Syrian response is faltering
“We were all completely shocked,” says Shams, a Syrian refugee and mother of two from north of Homs province, commenting on December’s announcement by the UN World Food Program (WFP) that it had suspended payments of food aid to Syrian refugees. “It really bothered us because everything we get, we get from the UN,” she explains.
After months of warnings, the WFP simply ran out of money and was forced to delay the payment of vital assistance to 6.35 million Syrians displaced by this nearly four year long conflict. Suddenly, refugees across the region who rely on aid handed out by the international community had to go without this vital lifeline.
When one of the world’s largest providers of fundamental emergency aid starts to experience a major funding shortfall — potentially leaving millions of people in six countries without assistance — it causes concern for both refugees and the region as a whole. Unfortunately, a WFP funding shortfall for the Syrian crisis appear unlikely to be a short blip, but part of a downward trend, which in the coming months and years could also cause problems for many other agencies reacting to the crisis. In October 2011, just seven months after the start of the Syrian crisis, the WFP started an emergency operation inside that country. At the time, the response was localized and relatively small scale, initially only targeting 50,000 individuals for a period of three months with a total budget of $1.9 million. As the conflict rapidly expanded, so did the operation of the WFP: by the start of 2013, they were targeting 1.5 million people; by October 2013, this had increased to 4 million, and on the eve of 2014, 4.25 million Syrians were receiving assistance across the Middle East. Today, nearly 6.3 million Syrians receive food packages or assistance to buy food in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt — a project with a total budget of $2.2 billion….[Continue reading over at Executive Magazine]