The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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August 14, 2015

The Daily Star - WFP urges more support for food program, August 14, 2015

Samya Kullab

With dire funding shortfalls putting the future of the agency’s operations at risk, World Food Program’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin concluded a trip to Lebanon Thursday by calling on the international community to continue supporting Syrian refugees. Cousin, who arrived in the country Tuesday, met with Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley as well as with state officials, including Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas.

She appealed to officials to create more employment opportunities for Syrian refugees because many are known to be working illegally, according to WFP spokesperson Dina el-Kassaby.

To shore up support, Cousin also focused on the fact that the WFP’s food assistance program, which was halved due to severe funding shortages, contributes to the domestic economy. To date the program has injected over $1.1 billion into the economies of five countries neighboring Syria and hosting refugees.

The program has also created thousands of local jobs in the food and retail sector, Kassaby said.

Since January, the WFP has faced critical funding shortages that has dissuaded long-term planning and forced the agency to scale back the assistance it provides to over a million Syrian refugees in the region. In Lebanon, nearly 770,000 of the 1.2 Syrian refugees in the country depend on the WFP’s food program.

The WFP urgently needs $163 million to continue operations supporting nearly 1.5 million refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq, through October.

Kassaby said Syrian refugee families have taken extreme measures to cope with the cutbacks, which saw their cash for food assistance reduced from nearly $30 a month to $13.50. Some families have removed their children from schools and incurred large debts to meet daily living costs.

“The longer that Syrian refugees are away from Syria, the more vulnerable they become, the more reliant they become on external assistance,” Kassaby said, adding that three years into the war, most have already sold whatever items they had of value.

“I met young Syrians who, because of the conflict, may never realize their incredible potential. This conflict robs them of their education, their childhoods and their dreams,” Cousin said in a statement about her visit to the Bekaa Valley. “The conflict is pushing families below the poverty line, into desperation.”

“For affected populations in Syria and refugees around the region, WFP food assistance provides stability,” she said. “To provide this assistance, we rely on the generosity of the international community. We simply cannot let them down.”

Last year the WFP received nearly $5.4 billion in contributions in response to the unprecedented number of emergencies in the Middle East and West Africa, but as needs continue to rise around the world, the resources of even the most generous donor countries have also been spread thin.

“Despite this, we are still reaching 4 million displaced people inside Syria and 1.5 million around the region,” Kassaby said.

Source & Link: The Daily Star

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