Funding cuts to hurt refugee children

Humanitarian agency World Vision has warned that cuts in food assistance for Syrian refugees could have profound consequences, with families more likely to send their children into work or early marriage, or even return to war-torn Syria.

World Vision Syria Response Director Wynn Flaten said World Vision had already seen many families in its programs reducing their portion sizes, eating fewer meals per day and taking on debt as a result of previous food cuts.

“But these new measures could have profound consequences if urgently needed funding isn't provided,” he said.

“The negative impact on children will be significant, with families more likely to send their children to work or into early marriage. We are also seeing a disturbing trend of families returning to Syria just to survive."

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced this week it was being forced to implement deeper cuts in food assistance for vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan because of a severe lack of funding.

In July, WFP will halve the value of food vouchers, or “e-cards,” in Lebanon, providing only US$13.50 per person per month. In Jordan, WFP fears that if it does not receive immediate funding by August, it will have to suspend all assistance to Syrian refugees living outside camps, leaving some 440,000 people with no food.

WFP is funded entirely by contributions from governments, companies and private individuals. But its regional refugee operation is currently 81 percent underfunded and immediately requires US$139 million to continue helping desperate refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq through September.

In 2014, WFP globally received US$5.38 billion in contributions – 27 percent higher than in 2013. This was in response to an unprecedented number of emergencies in places such as Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, and the West African countries affected by Ebola. However, needs have continued to outpace available funding.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 12.2 million people in the Syria response are in need of humanitarian assistance.

For interview with World Vision staff, in Australia or Jordan, please contact Stuart Rintoul +61 (0) 407 241 492

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