News / Middle East

UN Warns of Looming Food Cutoff for Syrian Refugees

A Syrian refugee washes dishes at a camp in Tyre, Lebanon, Jan. 31, 2013.
A Syrian refugee washes dishes at a camp in Tyre, Lebanon, Jan. 31, 2013.
VOA News
The United Nations says it will be forced to halt food aid to 400,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon next month unless it receives urgent new funding.

The cash shortage, made public in Beirut Tuesday, is part of a larger financial crisis that threatens international efforts to aid more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees who have fled to neighboring countries to escape Syria's civil war.

World Food Program spokesman Etienne Labande voiced fears that any interruption in food aid could further inflame tensions in the already tense Lebanese refugee camps.

Separately, Jordan's health minister made an "urgent" appeal Tuesday for $355 million to provide urgent medical care for hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have sought safety in the kingdom. He spoke to the state-run Petra news agency.

In Geneva, the U.N. refugee agency also warned of chaos if donor countries that pledged $1 billion in aid earlier this year do not make good on their promises by June.

Regional U.N. refugee coordinator Panos Moumtzis said the agency has received only one-third of the promised aid.  Despite the shortfall, he said aid agencies have been boosting health services, including food, water and shelter, since January.

Moumtzis also said the massive exodus of Syrians to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq does not take into account the many refugees who have not registered.  

He also noted data showing the refugee count 12 months ago was 30,000.

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