- The United Nations Food Agency has announced its decision to cut monthly cash aid to 120,000 Syrian refugees living in camps in Jordan.
- About half of the refugees in the largest camps, Zaatari and Azraq, rely on cash aid for their basic needs.
- The ongoing funding crisis facing UN agencies and international humanitarian organizations has created challenges in meeting the budgetary needs to support Syrians in their war-torn country and neighboring countries.
The United Nations food agency said on Tuesday it would cut monthly cash aid to 120,000 Syrian refugees living in camps in Jordan because of what it described as an “unprecedented financial crisis”.
Jordan is a country of 11 million people and hosts approximately 1.3 million refugees from Syria, most of whom live in camps across the kingdom. About half of the refugees in Jordan’s two largest camps – Zaatari and Azraq – rely on cash aid.
Jordanian officials have warned that the kingdom cannot fill the gap left by international donors.
The announcement by the World Food Program comes after the agency said last week that it would phase out aid to the 50,000 refugees in Jordan. The program initially covered 465,000 refugees.
After the full cutoff, about 30% of refugees who still remain in the program will be cut in cash. WFP said the monthly cash allowance would be reduced from $32 to $21.
Due to a lack of funds, 100,000 Haitians will not receive assistance from the United Nations World Food Program
UN agencies and international humanitarian organizations have struggled for years to meet budgetary needs for their aid to Syrian refugees in Syria and neighboring countries because of donor fatigue, the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and Ukraine’s war with Russia.
Although Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government managed to reclaim large swathes of territory with the help of allies Russia and Iran, the crisis in the war-torn country remains at a standstill.
“As funding runs out, our hands are tied,” said Alberto Correa Mendes, WFP’s representative for Jordan.
The agency said that even with the current cuts, it still faces a funding shortfall of about $41 million and may have to take additional measures.
Funding cuts have also affected millions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Turkey, where anti-refugee rhetoric and calls for mass deportations have grown in light of the economic and political crisis.
Syria’s uprising turned into a civil war, now in its 13th year, killing nearly half a million people and displacing half of its previous population of 23 million.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi spoke about the kingdom’s inability to fill the funding gap at this year’s annual donor conference on Syria in Brussels last June. Last week, he warned again that “refugees will suffer”.
“It’s not on Jordan,” he said. It is on those who are short of support. “Providing refugees with a dignified life is a global responsibility. It is not ours alone as a host country.”
The withdrawal of aid has forced agencies to look only at the most vulnerable families, leaving many without help, said Dominic Bartsch, the UN refugee agency’s representative in Jordan.
“There is a risk that the situation is slipping into a humanitarian crisis with dire consequences for refugees and host communities,” Bartsch said.
Click here to get the Fox News app.
In a July 4 visit to Damascus where he met with Assad, Safadi called for investment in Syria’s crumbling infrastructure to speed up the voluntary return of refugees. Jordan has also led regional talks with Damascus to reach a solution to end the conflict.
Western countries still impose sanctions on Syria, including for alleged war crimes and involvement in the drug trade, and have not endorsed funding to restore or rebuild relations with Assad, as Arab countries do.