Close to 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt are facing a disastrous and hungry winter after a financial crisis compelled the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) to suspend food vouchers to hundreds of thousands forced into exile by the conflict.
The UN's initiative allows refugees to buy food in local shops.
AdvertisementThe WFP has brought food to millions of Syrians inside the country since the war began in March 2011, and has utilized the voucher programme to provide countries hosting the refugees with a financial support of $800m.
But after finding itself unable to generate the $64m it needs to help Syrian refugees in December, the UN body announced that it was halting the food scheme.
Critical funding shortfalls have already led the UN to reduce rations within Syria, where it is trying to help 4.25 million people.
Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the programme, issued an urgent appeal to donors, asking them to honour their commitments and warning that the suspension would have a destructive effect on the lives of more than 1.7 million people.
She said: "The suspension will endanger the health and safety of these refugees and will potentially cause further tensions, instability and insecurity in the neighbouring host countries. The suspension of WFP food assistance will be disastrous for many already suffering families."
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