UN food aid chief says Syria funding 'bleak'

 Funding prospects are "bleak" and impoverished Syrian refugees face more cuts in food aid, the head of the World Food Program said in an interview, after inspecting the bare refrigerator of a refugee family and meeting boys forced to swap school for work to help their families survive.

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 11, 2015, 14:18 PM IST

Amman: Funding prospects are "bleak" and impoverished Syrian refugees face more cuts in food aid, the head of the World Food Program said in an interview, after inspecting the bare refrigerator of a refugee family and meeting boys forced to swap school for work to help their families survive.

Ertharin Cousin, the UN agency's executive director, called on donor countries to give more to millions displaced by the Syria conflict, now in its fifth year.

"We need everyone to recognise that we as a global community must continue to stand by these families, these children, until the political situation is solved," she told The Associated Press after meeting with refugees in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

"We are asking the community of donors and taxpayers around the world ... To continue to assist us," Cousin said, adding that "children must eat every day, a mother must cook and put food on the table every night."

Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, more than 4 million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries. About 630,000 have found refuge in Jordan, with the vast majority living in poverty in local communities rather than in three refugee camps. Other host countries include Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

In Jordan, some 440,000 refugees currently receive WFP food vouchers, with aid scaled back repeatedly in recent months.

About 211,000 food aid recipients, considered the most vulnerable, get USD 14 per person per month, and that level of funding is secured through November, the WFP said.

The rest are considered less vulnerable because family members could potentially find informal jobs, even though refugees are largely barred from working in Jordan.

"Unfortunately, those families, starting in September, unless we receive additional contributions, they will receive nothing," Cousin said.

In Iraq, meanwhile, the WFP announced further cuts in food aid for close to one million displaced people.

"The situation is bleak," Cousin said after meeting Khaldiyeh Hussein, a mother of eight, in her one-room shelter in the Hashemi al-Shamali neighbourhood of Amman.