Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Syria: International Organization to Reduce Beneficiaries to 35%

Syria: International Organization to Reduce Beneficiaries to 35%

Wednesday, 15 May, 2019 - 10:15
An internally-displaced woman sits outside a tent in Idlib province, Syria, July 30, 2018. (Reuters)
Damascus Countryside - Asharq Al-Awsat
World Food Program (WFP) plans to reduce the number of households that benefit from food aid baskets in regime-controlled areas to about 35 percent of the current beneficiary families and to allocate them to the poorest.

An official of a local NGO, that partners with the United Nations and other international organizations told Asharq Al-Awsat a new program for aid distribution had been devised and will be implemented after two months.

He explained that the new program includes canceling the names of about 65 percent of the current beneficiary families and keeping 35 percent of the poorest families.

Meanwhile, Syrian Center for Policy Research in partnership with the Department of Environmental Health of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut, issued a study indicating that overall poverty rates in Syria reached as high as 93.7 percent at the end of 2017, while abject poverty levels reached 59.1 percent in the same year.

As living conditions in regime-controlled areas worsened, charities launched a project to distribute food baskets, namely provided by WFP, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and other charities.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which is also a subsidiary of the United Nations, distributes food parcels to Palestinian refugees.

International organizations are required to carry out the relief operation in coordination with the regime through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. Syria's regime prevents any relief organization from working on Syrian territory without its consent.

Earlier in 2018, the United Nations announced that the number of recipients of WFP assistance amounted to 3 million Syrians, after it used to support 4 million in 2017, due to lack of funding.

The official of the local NGO indicated that the new relief plan does not include a reduction in the total amount of aid distributed in regime-controlled areas, but limits it to the poorest families only based on documentation provided by these families.

Under the new plan, the quantities and quality of the food basket will increase and will be distributed once a month after it was distributed every three months, said the official.

According to the leaflets attached to the food basket, those who are entitled to register for the "basket of food" are the displaced families, the very poor families and the families that lost the breadwinner, given that they provide proper documentation to prove that.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says Syria has 7.5 million people displaced from their areas of residence to safer areas and more than 5 million refugees outside the country.

Ironically, those who take the food baskets are mostly residents who have not fled their areas, and some even still live in their homes.

Locals say some distribution center officials are manipulating the registration processes and giving the aid and baskets to families that are not in need.

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