UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations on Thursday said that it is running out of money to pay for its food programs for almost 6 million Syrians who have been displaced by the country's civil war and that aid will be cut.
The U.N. World Food Program says that the size of next month's food rations for 4 million internally-displaced Syrians will be reduced and the number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries who receive food or vouchers will be cut from 2 million.
WFP needs $1 billion for its emergency programs for this year for refugees but has received only $410 million, or 39 percent, said Bettina Luescher, chief spokeswoman for WFP. Operations for Syrians displaced within the country need $915 million but have received only $324 million, or 35 percent.
WFP hopes to be able to distribute cereal, cooking oil and salt to help feed internally-displaced Syria next month, but the portions now look to be smaller, which means they will get less than 60 percent of the nutritional value they need. This WFP program is poised to close in December.
Displaced Syrians "will eat less often. They will share meals with others. They will try to find odd jobs," said Luescher.
The shortfall will also hamper the food agency's efforts to feed 2 million refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq. Vouchers in all the countries will be cut — by half in Egypt. In Iraq, the voucher value for the 70,000 refugees in a displaced person camp will be cut to $25 from $31. A school feeding program for 12,000 children there has already closed.
Luescher said crises around the world — from Iraq, the Central African Republic to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa — have consumed the amount of donors' money that can be distributed.
WFP receives its support from governments, the private sector, other organizations and individuals.
The three-year-old conflict in Syria has displaced some 6 million people, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.