United Nations Slashes Food Aid For Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugees in a camp in Jordan – thousands face hunger because of cuts to the UN World Food Programme

THE United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has announced that funding shortages have forced it to cut its food assistance for thousands of Syrian refugees living in Jordan.

The UN body said on Thursday that 21,000 Syrian refugees will no longer receive their monthly food assistance as of July amid a prioritisation exercise due to a crisis of funds.
Although recent contributions from donors have averted wide-scale cuts affecting a larger number of people, resources still fall well short of meeting the needs of all vulnerable refugees in Jordan, it added.
According to the WFP, it urgently needs 58 million dollars to continue its food aid programme until the end of 2021 for the half million refugees it supports.
‘Desperate times call for desperate measures. We have to make some difficult choices to stretch the limited resources we have and ensure that we meet the needs of the most vulnerable refugees.
‘These are families who cannot put food on the table without WFP assistance,’ said Alberto Correia Mendes, WFP Representative and Country Director in Jordan.
‘These are painful choices. What’s more, if we do not receive further contributions, we may find ourselves having to cut food assistance for another quarter of a million refugees living outside the camps by September,’ Mendes added.
He noted that the cuts are coming at the worst time due to the increased number of families who are struggling to earn money or have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a recent WFP survey, some 68 per cent of the refugees have seen their income drop since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Refugees in Jordan have been suffering increasing food insecurity in 2020 as two in three refugees are on the verge of food insecurity.
Refugee families consider WFP’s assistance a lifeline. Those who live in Zaatari and Azraq camps and extremely vulnerable families living in local communities receive 32 dollars per person each month.
Vulnerable refugees living outside the camps receive monthly assistance of 21 dollars per person.
The UN food agency requires urgent funding to continue providing vulnerable refugees with assistance and to stop families falling into further food insecurity and deeper poverty.
The WFP is working closely with partners including the Jordanian government, donors, UN agencies and NGOs to meet the required funds.
‘We are grateful to our donors for their long-standing support to Syrian refugees in Jordan over the last decade. Many of these refugees are now more vulnerable than ever, reeling from the economic impact of Covid-19, which has pushed hundreds of thousands into an ever more desperate situation and increased their humanitarian needs,’ WFP representative Mendes said.
‘We count on our donor support more than ever,’ he said.
The UN food agency said in May 2020 that a record 9.3 million people were food insecure in Syria.
The United Nations food programme said spiralling prices and the coronavirus pandemic have compounded the damage of the war in Syria.
In November 2020, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blamed the United States for hampering the return of refugees to Syria.
The Syrian president blames the United States for hampering the return of refugees to Syria.
‘Today we continue working persistently for the return of every refugee who wants to return and participate in the restoration of the homeland,’ Assad said.
Since 2011, more than 5.6 million Syrians have been forced from homes. Many of them have sought refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.

  • Opponents of Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the prospective new administration have announced that there will not be a freeze in construction of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territories, despite the international outcry over the Tel Aviv regime’s land expropriation policies.

David Elhayani, who heads the Jordan Valley Regional Council and the Yesha umbrella council of settlement mayors, said senior lawmakers in the right-wing Israeli political parties of Yamina and New Hope have stated that they would not form a new governing coalition that would end Netanyahu’s 12-year rule in case there will be a freeze.
‘I … do not think that this administration will harm the settlement movement,’ Elhayani said.
He added, ‘New Hope chairman Gideon Sa’ar, Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman are very committed to the right-wing.’
Elhayani noted that opposition leaders have reached agreements with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid to ensure that in addition to no construction freeze, the so-called Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee – the body affiliated with the Israeli ministry of military affairs and responsible for authorising settlement construction in the occupied West Bank – will continue to meet on a quarterly basis.
Benny Gantz, who is poised to continue his job as Israeli minister of military affairs in the new administration, suggested earlier this week that he would make the decisions on settlement construction and not Bennett or Sa’ar.
‘Only I will decide on settlement construction and negotiate with the Americans on issues pertaining to Judea and Samaria (West Bank), Elhayani quoted Gantz as having said.
Elhayani highlighted that both Bennett and Sa’ar ‘will safeguard the interests of the settlement movement, both at the budgetary level and at the diplomatic level’.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Israel has stepped up its illegal settlement construction activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which has pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds ‘a flagrant violation under international law’.
The United Nations says Israel’s demolition campaign against Palestinian structures jumped by 90% in April compared to the same month last year.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.
Netanyahu’s opponents announced late on Wednesday they had reached a deal to form a new governing coalition and oust the longtime Israeli leader.
But the agreement must still be approved by the Knesset, or parliament, in a vote that is expected to take place early this week. If it goes through, opposition leader Yair Lapid and a diverse array of partners will take the helm.
Meanwhile, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip have dismissed a change in Israeli administration, saying Bennet, who is due to replace Netanyahu under a patchwork coalition, would likely pursue the same right-wing agenda.
Israeli opposition politician Yair Lapid has announced forming an unprecedented coalition aimed at ousting Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Bassem al-Salhi, a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said last Thursday that the prime minister designate was no less extreme than Netanyahu, adding, ‘He will make sure to express how extreme he is in the administration.’
‘There is no difference between one Israeli leader and another … When it comes to us, they are all bad, and they all refuse to give the Palestinians their rights and their land,’ Ahmed Rezik, 29, a government worker in Gaza, said.
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, said it made no difference who is in charge of the Tel Aviv regime.
‘Palestinians have seen dozens of Israeli administrations throughout history, right, left, centre, as they call it. But all of them have been hostile when it comes to the rights of our Palestinian people and they all had hostile policies of expansionism,’ Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem pointed out.