Aid to 1.7 million Syrians suspended

2014-12-01 19:56
A Syrian man reacts following reported airstrikes by government forces in the Syrian city of Raqa, a stronghold of the Islamic State. (Mohamed Abel Rahman, AFP)

A Syrian man reacts following reported airstrikes by government forces in the Syrian city of Raqa, a stronghold of the Islamic State. (Mohamed Abel Rahman, AFP)

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Cairo - The World Food Programme said on Monday it was suspending key food aid to over 1.7 million Syrian refugees because of a funding crisis.

The UN agency warned that "many families will go hungry" due to the suspension of the programme, under which it gives poor refugees in countries neighbouring Syria vouchers to buy food in local shops.

"For refugees already struggling to survive the harsh winter, the consequences of halting this assistance will be devastating," the WFP said.

WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said that the agency needs a total of $64m immediately to support Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries during December.

The agency said it had still enough food to feed aid recipients inside Syria until January but risked running out there as well, as funding from donors had dried up.

"Over the last few weeks we have gained access to new areas, such as suburbs outside Damascus," WFP spokesperson Abeer Etefa said.

"This funding issue is coming at a very bad time, because we are finally getting access to areas that have been cut off for months, but we are now facing a situation where we can't feed the people we have gained access to recently," she added.

According to UN agencies, over 3 million Syrians have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, while 6.45 million are displaced inside Syria.

The conflict, which began in 2011 with peaceful demonstrations against the regime of President Bashar Assad, has become a multi-sided civil war, which the UN says has cost over 190 000 lives.

Read more on:    syria  |  syria conflict

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