The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) announced the end of its general food assistance program across Syria in January 2024 due to a lack of funding. This decision comes after over 12 years of providing extensive support to families affected by the ongoing crisis in the country.
The WFP will continue to support families affected by emergencies and natural disasters through smaller and more targeted interventions. Additionally, the program will continue to assist specific vulnerable groups, such as children under the age of five, pregnant and lactating mothers, children in schools, and agricultural families in rural areas, as well as support the recovery of local food systems.
The UN’s program has been a crucial lifeline for millions of Syrians, having spent billions of dollars and delivered millions of tons of food over the past decade. However, despite these efforts, food security in the region is now at an all-time low. The program has faced a historical funding crisis, leading to the inability to sustain its previous levels of assistance. This reduction in aid will undoubtedly have severe consequences for the millions of people who rely on this support.
The funding shortfall is a result of various factors, including unprecedented humanitarian needs globally, economic challenges, and financial constraints from international donors. The WFP’s operations in Syria, which depend entirely on emergency grants, have been significantly impacted, leading to a reduction in life-saving aid at a time when acute hunger has reached extreme levels. Nearly half of WFP’s country operations worldwide are facing similar reductions or planned reductions due to funding shortfalls.
The program and its implementing partners are actively reaching out to affected families and communities to inform them of these changes. Additionally, the World Bank has established a feedback mechanism to provide people with the necessary information regarding this situation. Despite these challenges, the WFP expresses deep gratitude to its cooperating partners in Syria for their continued support in assisting the most vulnerable families.
The WFP’s presence in Syria dates back to 1964, and over the past ten years, it has provided extensive support, including general food assistance, school meals, nutritional programs, and livelihood support.
The reduction in WFP services in Syria is a stark reminder of the devastating impact of funding shortfalls on humanitarian aid. As the program faces its largest reduction since its inception in Syria. The WFP’s continued mobilization efforts on behalf of the Syrian people, along with increased awareness and advocacy, by members of the international and humanitarian community are crucial in addressing this crisis.