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34,000 Syrian refugees to no longer receive food vouchers as of April

By JT - Mar 19,2015 - Last updated at Mar 19,2015

AMMAN — The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has announced that its food assistance for Syrian refugees living in Jordanian communities will be prioritised further to make sure support goes to those most in need.

“These are difficult choices for WFP, but every dollar spent on a family who can manage without it is a dollar taken from a family who desperately needs it,” a statement quoted Jonathan Campbell, WFP emergency coordinator for the Syrian refugees operation in Jordan, as saying. 

“We need to focus on the most vulnerable people to make sure their needs are met, even if unfortunately it means reducing the level of assistance for others.”

The aim is to ensure the focus is on the most vulnerable, but it will also mean that from April, 34,000 people will no longer receive WFP food vouchers, said the WFP statement, which was released Thursday.

An additional 239,000 refugees will have the value of their vouchers reduced. 

"These people have been advised of the decision by SMS messages and other means. However, 180,000 people considered the most vulnerable should still receive the full voucher value," the WFP said.

The decisions on the prioritisation of food assistance are based on comprehensive interagency assessments and monitoring by UN agencies and NGO partners that measure the general living conditions of refugees and their ability to cope, according to the statement.

Factors taken into account include the number of children in the family, the gender of the head of the family, household expenditure, debts, whether family members have disabilities and general living conditions. 

WFP and its partners will monitor the situation "to ensure that families most in need are assisted".

“So vulnerable families do not fall through the cracks, Syrian refugees affected by these decisions can appeal as soon as they are notified, if they believe they are in need of assistance,” Campbell said. 

The WFP’s food voucher programme for Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries is the largest in the world, and is funded entirely by voluntary contributions, the UN agency said.

Nearly two million Syrian refugees, spread across five countries in the region, are assisted through WFP food vouchers every month. 

In Jordan, WFP currently supports some 450,000 refugees living among host communities and over 90,000 living in camps. 

From January 2015, because of funding shortfalls, eligible Syrian refugees living in communities have received a reduced monthly entitlement of JD13 instead of the original entitlement of JD20. Some families will now see the value of their vouchers diminish further, from the current JD13 per month to JD10 per month. 

This is not the first time that WFP has prioritised refugees on the basis of vulnerability assessments. 

In Jordan, the number of refugees receiving food assistance fell by almost 15 per cent around the turn of the year, while in Lebanon in 2013 and early 2014, almost 30 per cent of Syrian refugees stopped receiving assistance. 

Throughout the region, assessments are ongoing to prioritise those most in need who depend entirely on WFP assistance. 

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