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WFP might, again, suspend food assistance to Syrian refugees

By Khetam Malkawi - Jan 12,2015 - Last updated at Jan 12,2015

AMMAN — Syrian refugees in the Kingdom might be at risk of another suspension of the food voucher programme by the end of this month if the World Food Programme (WFP) did not receive funds to sustain the assistance. 

The WFP said in a statement that funds the agency currently has only cover distributing food vouchers for Syrian refugees in Jordan until the end of January, and there is no confirmation that more aid is coming in the current year.

In November last year, the agency suspended the provision of vouchers to more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, but resumed it mid-December after launching impromptu fund-raising campaigns by the end of which the agency received donations to cover one-month needs.

In the Kingdom, 440,000 Syrian refugees have been affected by the suspension, out of more than 600,000 registered refugees. Those living in camps were excluded from the decision back then.

WFP Spokesperson Shaza Moghrabi said the agency has conducted a market analysis to re-evaluate the food voucher project and decided to reduce allocations for Syrians residing outside the camps.

She told The Jordan Times that before the suspension of the programme last month, the agency used to give Syrians in host community JD24 per person per month and this was reduced to JD13 after donations were received in December.

Although the agency will not keep it as low as JD13 if required funds are secured for the year 2015, it will not also pay them JD24, as explained by Moghrabi, who noted that the allocations will be reduced to JD20 for those residing in host community.

Referring to the market analysis study, the programme spokesperson said the study showed that refugees can obtain the items they need with good quality and lower price from the markets that have contracts with WFP.

“Thus we decided to reduce the allocations,” she noted.

Meanwhile, the allocations for those residing in the camps will remain the same, as they were already receiving JD20 in addition to fresh bread rations on a daily basis, a staple residents of host community do not receive.

WFP has appealed for more than $1.5 billion to feed more than seven million Syrians displaced inside their country and sheltered in neighbouring countries. In a statement sent to The Jordan Times, the agency said it appealed for $715 million for inside Syria under the Strategic Response Plan and $831 million for its regional assistance programme under the Regional Refugee Resilience Plan — both appeals were launched in Berlin on December18. 

“However at the onset of the year, our funding situation remains critical, forcing us to reduce the amount of assistance we can offer to Syrians in January,” the agency said.

It added that WFP requires immediately a total of $212 million to support operations in Syria and the five neighbouring countries for the first three months of 2015 — $179 million for food assistance throughout the region and $33 million for inside Syria. 

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