News / Middle East

WFP Seeks More Money to Cope with Syrian Crisis

An old tank is surrounded by fire following explosions of mortar shells from Syria on the Israeli controlled Golan Heights, July 16, 2013.
An old tank is surrounded by fire following explosions of mortar shells from Syria on the Israeli controlled Golan Heights, July 16, 2013.
— The United Nations launched a record $5.1 billion appeal last month to cope with the burgeoning humanitarian crisis of the Syrian civil war and among the agencies desperately needing replenishment is the World Food Program.

The World Food Program needs more money, and in less than two months will have exhausted its funding for an operation that is feeding 2.5 million people inside war-torn Syria and more than a million who have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

U.N. world food program agency director Ertharin Cousin speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, (File photo).U.N. world food program agency director Ertharin Cousin speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, (File photo).
x
U.N. world food program agency director Ertharin Cousin speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, (File photo).
U.N. world food program agency director Ertharin Cousin speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, (File photo).
WFP director Ertharin Cousin spoke to VOA during a recent overnight stop in Beirut after holding meetings in Damascus with senior Syrian government officials.  The highest-ranking U.N. official to have been in the Syrian capital for several months said the biggest challenge right now is covering the costs of feeding millions of Syrians.

“We have enough right now to support our activities until the end of August, the 1st September,” she explained. “We are on the phone every single day talking to donors. And as it comes in, it goes out. And we will continue to keep our pipeline robust for as long as the donors continue to invest in our work.”

She projects that by the end of the year four million inside Syria and three million outside will need emergency feeding, costing the WFP $168 million a month.

But money is not her only preoccupation. The WFP head slipped into Damascus to hold talks with Syrian government officials to ensure freer access for her agency and more than 20 partner non-governmental organizations that help distribute the agency’s food.  In recent weeks WFP has had food distribution disrupted at government checkpoints and by the jihadist group al-Nusra front.

“In the meetings with government my message was a very direct one and that is that we must have access, and we need the government to ensure that they do nothing to impede our access nor should anyone in the opposition do anything to impede our access,” Cousin said. “And that we are going to talk to the government and we are going to talk to everyone else who’s involved in this conflict to ensure that we have the humanitarian access that we need so that people don’t go hungry."

Cousin said she made clear to Syrian officials that she did not want to get involved in discussions on the political situation in the war-torn country.  “Of course they raised political issues. They were very quick to understand my reluctance to participate in any political conversations because that’s not what I came for. There’re lots of people spending a great deal of time debating the political issues and working to find the political solutions,” she stated. “We deal with the fallout of the lack of a political solution.”

Cousin said she admires the courage of the more than 100 WFP staffers inside Syria and she said she has to evaluate from time to time whether to evacuate them because of the high risks. “You consider it because you have the responsibility to consider all ‘the what ifs’ but we recognize that if we leave, people will go hungry,” she said. “I work with people who humble me every single day because they are committed to being where people need them whether it was in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan or now in Syria.”

Despite intensified shelling in Damascus her staff insists on staying.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid