Monday Aug 8, 2022
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Syrian refugees in Jordan worry as WFP to cut food aid

2021 Jun 30, 12:22, Amaan
Syrian refugees shop at a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)'s contracted supermarket in Zaatari, Jordan, on June 27, 2021. Photo: Xinhua

Mohammad Harkal, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan with his wife and five children, voiced concerns that he would not be able to put bread on the table for his family if there is no aid from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

His family eats yoghurt and falafel for breakfast, and potato with rice for lunch or dinner. Using the WFP coupon to buy food from the stores, he said if the aid from the WFP and the United Nation Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is cut, "we cannot live at all."

Working as a casual porter and suffering a heart illness that restricted him from having stable work, 34-year-old Harkal spent almost all earnings around 60 Jordanian dinars (about 85 U.S. dollars) monthly on the medication.

In early June, the WFP announced that 21,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan would no longer receive their monthly food assistance as of July, following a prioritization exercise driven by a shortage of funds.

Jonathan Campbell, WFP's deputy country director to Jordan, said the UN agency is facing a severe shortage of funds that will affect a more significant number of refugees in the coming months.

"We have already informed 21,000 refugees that we cannot support them as of July 1, and if we do not get more money, sadly we will have to make much bigger cuts ... tentatively, we are looking at another quarter of a million refugees also living outside the camps," he said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

The WFP said it urgently needs 58 million U.S. dollars to continue food assistance until the end of the year for the half-million refugees it supports.

He pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the fund shortage and caused the donor countries to divert their overseas assistance to their own population.

According to the WFP, refugees living in Jordan's Zaatari and Azraq camps, as well as those extremely vulnerable families living in local communities receive 32 dollars per person monthly, while refugees living outside camps classified as vulnerable receive monthly assistance of 21 dollars per person.

"The situation is very alarming ... the more people lack money for food, the more they have to cut expenses in other areas and take kids out of schools or maybe marry their daughters early ... we see this trend is rising already," he said.

Harkal's family was forced to flee from the countryside of Damascus to Jordan in 2013. Though they won't be affected by the upcoming cuts in July due to harsh living conditions, they still expressed anxiety.

"I am scared ... I cannot imagine my life without this assistance from the WFP," Harkal's 34-year-old wife Nourhan Harkal told Xinhua. The family has been forced to move their home six times in Jordan as a result of the rising rents, currently paid by the UNHCR.

"I wish no one will face a cut in funding, because there are many families like us ... Everyone is in need, and the situation is deteriorating amid the coronavirus crisis," she said.

"Any home that will face the cut of the aids will live in a catastrophic situation ... Therefore, I call upon the whole world to be merciful with the conditions of Syrians here because we are in dire need," she added.

A recent WFP survey revealed that 68 percent of the refugees in Jordan have seen their income drop since the beginning of the pandemic. Meanwhile, 25 percent of them suffered from food insecurity last year, while 64 percent were on the edge of food insecurity. 


Syrian refugee United Nations World Food Programme UNHCR
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