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WFP to reduce number of Syrian refugees covered by food assistance

By Muath Freij - Oct 16,2014 - Last updated at Oct 16,2014

AMMAN – Around 12,000 Syrian refugee families who have access to sufficient income or support networks to meet their food requirements will no longer be receiving food vouchers from the World Food Programme, a WFP official said Thursday.

The decision was taken following a study conducted by the WFP in early 2014 with the aim of identifying families that need this kind of service, WFP Spokesperson Shaza Moghrabi said.

“When we first began providing Syrian refugees with assistance, it was difficult for us to see who the most vulnerable families were. We covered 98 per cent of Syrian refugees registered with the UN,” she told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Conducted to evaluate the level of food security among registered Syrian refugees living in Jordanian communities, the “Comprehensive Food Security Monitoring Exercise” study found that 85 per cent of refugee families would not have sufficient funds to put enough food on their table without the WFP voucher support.

According to the study, Syrian refugee families are becoming increasingly vulnerable the longer they stay in Jordan and, therefore, more dependent on WFP food assistance to meet their basic needs.

Refugees who will no longer receive this assistance have been informed of this decision and can appeal if they believe they have strong grounds that prove they need food assistance to get by, according to the WFP.

In a statement sent to The Jordan Times, the UN agency said it is working closely with UNHCR and partners to monitor the programme and ensure that the assistance continues to reach those in need.

The statement quoted Jonathan Campbell, the WFP’s emergency coordinator for the Syrian refugee operations in Jordan, as saying that in the early stages of an emergency operation, identifying those who are truly in need and those who are not is not feasible.

“As the crisis has continued, targeting of humanitarian assistance becomes essential and we have more information, which we have cross-checked in the field, to do so,” Campbell added.

“Initially we asked families who did not need this assistance to inform us, and a few families did volunteer to give up their entitlement. Now we are taking this further, since every cent spent on a family who is not in need of assistance is a cent taken from a family that is in need,” the WFP official said.

In Jordan, some 540,000 Syrian refugees, most of whom are living in host communities, benefit from monthly food assistance spent in local shops through electronic vouchers to help them meet their food needs effectively, the WFP statement said. 

The UN agency needs to raise $35 million every week to meet the food needs of families affected by the conflict in Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries.

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