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USAID Official Tells Congress of Syrian Hunger Emergency

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Nancy Lindborg of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) spoke to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs this week about the growing humanitarian crisis facing war-torn Syria.

Her testimony followed an alarming report by Save the Children which states that potentially as many as “3.2 million people need food assistance in 58 sub-districts alone, suggesting that the situation may be much worse than previously thought.”

Lindborg, the Assistant Administrator for Humanitarian Assistance, said, “World Food Program (WFP) activities supported by the United States currently provide monthly rations to nearly 1.5 million within Syria and approximately 300,000 refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.”

She also described how U.S. assistance is helping people in the Aleppo governorate receive bread. Shortages of this basic staple have become widespread across Syria.

As Lindborg noted in her testimony, WFP is scaling up its activities to reach 2.5 million Syrians by the end of April. WFP, which relies on voluntary contributions from the U.S. and other countries, is very short on funding.

Budget decisions made by the Congress in coming weeks will have an effect on Syria and other nations facing humanitarian disasters. Bread for the World reported this week that the sequester cuts will impact international food aid. Even before these proposed cuts international food aid makes up less than one tenth of one percent of the entire federal budget.

The Save the Children report warns, “as the fighting continues and families are finding that accessing nutritious food becomes ever more difficult, expensive, and even dangerous, there are the first signs of an increase in the number of children suffering malnutrition.”

The World Food Program has set up a relief fund for Syria.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.