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.