Syrian refugee children attending school in Iraq will be without a feeding program when classes start next week. Low funding is preventing the UN World Food Programme (WFP) from distributing daily fortified snacks at refugee camps in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
Thousands of Syrians fled to Kurdistan in Iraq to escape the civil war in their homeland. They are depending on aid from the international community. WFP set up a school feeding program at refugee camps to help children with their nutrition and education.
Spokesperson Joelle Eid says, “During the 2013-2014 academic year, WFP provided almost 12,000 Syrian children with daily fortified snacks in an effort to increase enrolment and attendance while addressing short-term hunger and improving students’ concentration.” School feeding is an effective strategy for helping families in need. WFP has used this approach worldwide to help communities in their recovery from conflict, poverty and natural disasters.
WFP had planned to continue this initiative with the opening of the school year on September 22. Eid says, “WFP had intended to reach an even greater number of young Syrians with daily snacks during the upcoming academic year, following the construction of more schools to accommodate the growing number of pupils.”
However, the massive task of funding the overall Syria mission as well as others around the globe is overwhelming. There is just not enough funding to carry out all the humanitarian programs. School feeding is facing one of the funding cuts. WFP says around 20,000 Syrian children will be impacted.
The UN food agency, which relies on voluntary donations, is feeding around four million people inside Syria. Another 2.5 million Syrian refugees need food assistance in Iraq and neighboring countries. It costs WFP around $35 million a week for its Syria mission. A WFP report warns, “Without additional donor contributions, WFP will be forced to significantly – and immediately – limit the number of people supported with essential food assistance.”
The Kurdistan region of Iraq is under particular strain, hosting in addition an increasing number of Iraqis displaced by the onslaught of the terrorist army ISIL. The ongoing wars in the Middle East have caused large-scale displacement and suffering. The children are paying the heaviest price. How we respond to this humanitarian crisis will go a long way toward determining the future of the region.