The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday that Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries will receive food assistance within the next few days, after the aid was suspended at the beginning of the month.
The WFP said in a statement that refugees will receive $30 food vouchers for every family member, to use to buy food, starting from mid-December. WFP said this policy will allow families to choose their own food.
The WFP had suspended food aid on 1 December and launched a fundraising campaign, with a $64m target. Through the campaign, WFP was able to collect $80m.
WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said that “this outpouring of support in such a short time is unprecedented”. The third largest number of donors by nationality was Syrians, preceded by Americans and Canadians.
The food assistance programme reaches 1.7 million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt.
Well into its fourth year, the war in Syria has created more than 3.2 million Syrian refugees registered in neighbouring countries, with Lebanon and Turkey both hosting around 1.1 million each.
Egypt hosts 137,000 registered refugees. While Syrians were initially welcomed by Egyptian authorities under ousted president Mohamed Morsi, they faced tougher times after his ouster, which was followed by a stricter and less favourable interpretation of the laws governing refugees’ entry to and residency in Egypt.
In June, international rights watchdogs Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said “Egyptian authorities have violated the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants from Syria, including both Syrian nationals and Palestinians who were living in Syria.”
They added that, since the introduction of the visa requirements and security clearance following Morsi’s ouster, at least 476 Syrians were denied entry to Egypt and returned to Syria.