Saturday, July 04, 2015

Bombs or Bread

As British politicians busily prepare the ground-work for public approval for launching air-attacks against ISIS targets in Syria, the UN World Food Programme is making further cuts to its food assistance for Syrian refugees in both Jordan and Lebanon, forcing refugees to grapple with even tougher living conditions. The UN has been forced to reduce its food assistance for Syrian refugees, leaving thousands without support. Food coupon amounts have been half of what they used to be in January. Now, $13.50 is allocated every month for each registered refugee, causing many refugees to struggle for survival. While the UK government ponders the question of what and where to bomb, Um Haitham, a mother of three, asks "How are we supposed to feed our children, our babies, on this kind of money? This is not even enough to survive on. It's like we are the living dead here. How are we expected to survive?"
"Why reduce it bit by bit? Just cut it completely and leave us be," said Sara, who fled Idlib in northern Syria three years ago with her children. "What do they think $13 can get us, realistically? Sugar costs more."
Sondoss Shahni, a mother of six, looked panicked at the prospect of no assistance whatsoever. "No, please don't let them stop completely. It'll destroy us," she said. "Even a little bit helps. We need this."

1.6 million Syrian refugees and are spread throughout five countries. The WFP  says its Syrian refugee operation is 81 percent underfunded. Under the strain of such a deficit, the programme can only funnel its resources to the most underprivileged refugees, leaving 50,000 others without support. If it does not receive immediate funding by August, it will have to suspend all assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan who are living outside camps, which would strip 440,000 people of any form of assistance. The same could very well happen to Lebanon in September.

In Lebanon, families are concerned about the substandard diet they've had to live on. Rations are already tight those with young children had previously been forced to make do with meals sapped of nutrients.
"Sometimes the children manage to gather vegetables that are almost rotten, so we just boil them and then eat them," said one mother, who refrained from giving her name. "We all live off potato, bread, rice and sometimes pasta. This is our staple diet."
"I can't remember the last time we ate meat," another said.

The future continues to look bleak for Syria's refugees. "We are at risk of seeing the worst for the refugees," Abeer Etafa, a spokesperson for WFP warned.

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