x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UN calls for Arab world aid as Syria urgently needs Dh70m

The United Nations World Food Prgramme calls for more aid for Syria from Arab nations as the West decreases its aid.

Syrian refugees wait to receive food from a makeshift kitchen in a temporary refugee camp near the Al-Salama crossing between Syria and Turkey.
Syrian refugees wait to receive food from a makeshift kitchen in a temporary refugee camp near the Al-Salama crossing between Syria and Turkey.

DUBAI // More than Dh72 million (US$20m) is needed to feed the Syrian people until the end of the year, according to the United Nations World Food Programme.

With a cut in aid from the West, the agency has urged Arab countries to step in.

Muhannad Hadi, the director of the programme for Syria, said finding regular supplies of food is becoming close to impossible, while many of those who can find it cannot afford the huge rise in prices.

The agency is unable to reach everywhere in Syria because of security concerns, so Mr Hadi said it was relying on internal aid organisations to help with distribution.

“Just because we cannot reach them does not mean that we are not sending aid to them,” he said.

The WFP has 100 Syrians and 15 non-nationals working in the country. Seven workers were relocated due to escalating violence.

“Of course there are challenges,” Mr Hadi said. “Security and military confrontations. We are trying our best in reaching beneficiaries.

“Our monitoring teams are making sure the aid is reaching the right people.”

Mr Hadi said that since the start of the crisis the WFP had received $100m and helped 1.5 million people. “For 2013, we will have greater needs to meet in Syria,” he said.

Mr Hadi said they were relying heavily on Arab donors, including the UAE, for financial support.

Pablo Recalde, WFP country director in Palestine, said they too were relying on Arab countries after Western nations slashed their funding. He said financial aid had dropped by about 40 per cent, which has had a “big impact”.

“The West has many problems, financial problems, there is less to go around,” he said. “We need to rely more and more on other people. They must come to the table.”

Mr Recalde painted a grim picture of what life will be like in Gaza in eight years. With a lack of jobs and restrictions on movement, the food crisis is set to continue.

“Four hundred more hospital beds will be needed then and 900 more teachers,” he said.

He added that the UAE needed to work with the WFP to focus on infrastructure and direct aid.

osalem@thenational.ae