Syria’s main assistance program ends in January
The World Food Program (WFP) announced on Monday that it would terminate its primary assistance program in war-torn Syria by January due to a funding shortage, which had already reduced aid. The organization cited a record level of global humanitarian needs, stating that its donors need help with the previous level of support.
Over 12 million people in Syria lack regular access to sufficient food, and the WFP has progressively scaled down its support in Syria and neighboring countries that host millions of refugees. Donor fatigue and budget constraints have hindered humanitarian efforts, leading to a significant cut in assistance to 5.5 million Syrians in July.
The WFP emphasized that food insecurity is now “worse than ever before,” impacting millions.
The organization will continue smaller aid programs, including a school meals initiative and projects to rehabilitate irrigation systems and bakeries. Despite facing budget limitations, the WFP plans to support families affected by natural disasters and maintain some child nutrition and livelihood support schemes for farmers.
The agency needed $134 million to provide food assistance for six months to combat hunger and malnutrition in 3.2 million Syrians. In previous years, the WFP supported 5.5 million people. While donor fatigue, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine contributed to shrinking budgets, the WFP highlighted ongoing needs, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip during the Hamas-Israel war.
Despite a reduction in active conflict in Syria, economic challenges persist across various regions, with an estimated 90% of the population living in poverty. The national currency’s devaluation, an illicit drug trade, and the pursuit of opportunities elsewhere by unemployed Syrians further exacerbate the situation.
Along with food shortages, recently, there has been a surge in militant combats between different groups in Syria and Iraq. The presence of the US military in the region and its confrontation with the armed groups have raised tensions.