The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced on Tuesday plans to cut monthly cash assistance by one-third for all 119,000 Syrian refugees in Zaatari and Azraq camps in Jordan, “as funds run precariously low”.
“Starting in August, Syrian refugees in the camps will receive a reduced cash allowance of US$21 (JOD 15) per person per month, down from the previous amount of US$32 (JOD 23),” it said.
The UN food agency warned of the repercussions of the reduction, saying Syrian refugees living in both camps have limited income sources with only 30 per cent of adults working, mainly in temporary or seasonal jobs, while 57 per cent of camp residents say cash assistance is their only source of income.
“We are deeply concerned about the potential deterioration of families’ food security but as funding dries up, our hands are tied,” said WFP Representative and Country Director in Jordan Alberto Correia Mendes. “These reductions are likely to lead to increased negative coping strategies”, including child labour, withdrawal of children from school, child marriage and accumulating more debt, which have already increased among refugees in camps by 25 per cent compared to last year.
The WFP faces a critical funding shortfall of $41 million until the end of 2023 and has called for increased funding in order to continue its assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Jordan hosts about 650,000 Syrian refugees registered with the United Nations, with the actual number thought to be about 1.3 million, as many have not registered with the UN.