Funding shortfall forces UN to reduce aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan

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The United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) has announced a reduction in cash assistance for nearly 120,000 Syrian refugees residing in Jordanian camps. The WFP stated that the decision to cut aid was “unavoidable as funds run precariously low.”

Since the outbreak of the war in Syria in 2011, approximately 650,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Jordan, according to UN records. However, the Jordanian government estimates the number to be around 1.3 million. The WFP’s statement, released on Tuesday, highlighted the need for further reductions in food assistance due to the dwindling funds.

Effective next month, Syrian refugees in the Zaatari and Azraq camps will experience a reduction in their monthly cash allowance from $32 to $21 per person. The WFP explained that residents of these camps have limited income sources, with only 30 percent of adults engaged in temporary or seasonal jobs, and 57 percent relying solely on cash assistance as their primary source of income.

Dominik Bartsch, the representative of the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Jordan, expressed concern over the potential consequences for both refugees and host communities if adequate funding is not secured. The UNHCR warned that due to the funding gap, tens of thousands of vulnerable refugees would gradually lose access to WFP’s assistance, as the organization prioritizes the poorest families. They called for determined and coordinated action from the international community to address the situation.

Bartsch emphasized the importance of sustained support, which has allowed Syrian refugees in Jordan to access the labor market. However, he warned that without sufficient funding, there is a risk of sliding back into a humanitarian crisis.

Alberto Correia Mendes, the WFP’s representative in Jordan, raised concerns about the potential negative consequences resulting from the aid cuts. He warned of increased reliance on negative coping strategies such as child labor, child marriage, and accumulating debt. The WFP emphasized their deep concern regarding the deterioration of food security among families, but stated that their hands are tied due to the drying up of funds.

Despite the aid reductions, the WFP still faces a critical funding shortfall of $41 million until the end of 2023.

According to the UN, the war in Syria has claimed the lives of over half a million people and displaced millions more, including at least 5.5 million refugees seeking shelter in neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt.

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