Syria: Food Aid in Crisis, Assistance Slow in Coming

Aug. 4, 2015 - A $65 million donation by the United States last week helped the World Food Programme continue its food program for Syrians fleeing war. But the UN food agency said it still requires $168 million to provide food aid for about 4 million displaced Syrians. The $168 million is part of a larger, multi-billion dollar aid plan.

Food aid for those displaced in-country and cross-border refugees reached critical lows in July, WFP said. The program, which provides vouchers to help refugees pay for food, was about to be suspended before the US aid arrived.

Food Insecurity in Syria

Food and hunger have been driving forces in the Syrian conflict from the beginning. During a period of extreme weather conditions in 2010 many crops failed due to drought. Farm families migrated to more urban areas.

At the same time, wildfires in Russia increased world grain prices. The increased social and economic pressures led to civil unrest in March, 2011, which met a violent response from the Assad government in Damascus. The civil war unfolded from that conflict.

Food Aid to Syria

On March 31, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced that it had received $3.8 billion in pledges to Syrians for many forms of assistance from 40 donor countries.

Yet by July, the World Food Program said it was running short of cash to fund its voucher program.

Situation Will Worsen Without Political Solution, Official Says

Stephen O'Brien, under-secretary general for OCHA told the Security Council on July 28 that food assistance had been provided to 5.8 million people per month, medicine to nine million, and water and sanitation to five million.

Despite these contributions, O'Brien said that access to the needy is "severely restricted" and that the overall response plan for Syria was only 27 percent funded.

"Until there is a poltical settlement," he warned, "humanitarian needs will only grow."

date of publication: 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015