By Lara Kajs
As the Syrian Civil War rolls into its fourth year, the refugee population continues to grow to historic proportions.
Currently more than three million Syrians have fled the country while an additional 6.5 million are internally displaced (IDP). As many 12.2 million Syrians need assistance; almost half the country’s population.
Caught in the crisis is The World Food Program (WFP) which halted its food voucher program for the Syrian refugee population due to a lack of funding. The WFP voucher program has been feeding approximately 1.7 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. As pressure mounts in this humanitarian emergency, the plight of millions of Syrian men, women and children depends on contributions from the international community.
Helping to Feed the Hungry
The World Food Program has worked to feed the hungry throughout the world for more than fifty years. In recent years it provided aid in more than 75 countries. According to UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, today, more than 100 million people are in need of humanitarian aid and it takes more money to provide for an increasing needy population.
WFP relies on contributions from companies, donor countries, and individuals. Reportedly, the reason for the shortage is nearly 24 percent in unfulfilled pledges from donor countries totaling $585 million. At the top of the list of donor countries is the United States which gave the WFP $125 million in November 2014 more than $4.6 billion in funding in 2014. However, not all countries
contribute to the WFP and many that do, do so sparingly. Furthermore, countries (like Russia) which perpetuates the Syrian Civil War by supplying Bashar al Assad with arms, shares in the responsibility to care for the victims of the war: the refugees.
Not A Middle East Crisis – But A Global Crisis
The Syrian refugee crisis
is not just a Middle East crisis – it is a global crisis. Without humanitarian aid for the refugees (half of whom are children), the economic devastation will lead to a domino effect in an already unstable region.
World Food Program is asking for donations, “Even one dollar can make a difference,” WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin urged. If 64 million people gave just $1 it would be enough money to continue the much needed humanitarian aid as winter begins in the region.
In the 21st century, this should not be happening! Are we willing to lose a generation of children while we wait for someone – some country – to step up to the plate and help Syria? The right answer is “NO!” We have seen the faces of the people of Syria, pleading for help. We cannot sit by and do nothing; we have to do all we can.
Featured Image: Syrian refugees warm themselves around a fire in Hacibayram districk of Ankara on Nov 21. (Photo: Reuters, Ümit Bektaş)