When Om Rabab, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan, received a text message informing her that she would no longer be receiving food aid packages from the World Food Program (WFP), her first thought was how she was going to survive.
"What shall I do? Sell myself or sell my three girls?" said Om Rabab, who asked to use a pseudonym, as do many refugees hoping to protect their families who remain in Syria.
Too many Syrian families have sold their daughters into arranged marriages, desperate for cash to survive. Now, Om Rabab said, she was considering the same option.
Last week, more than 200,000 Syrian refugees woke up to the news that they would no longer be receiving the food aid that they had come to rely on. The message read: "Due to the low amounts of contributions the WFP is sorry to inform you that your food aid has been stopped."
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Abeer Etefa, senior regional communications officer for the WFP in the Middle East, said the organization had done its best to keep delivering food aid to Syrian refugees but was no longer able to afford it.
"Let's face the horrible situation here," said Etefa. "We are facing a huge shortage of funds. We used to support around 100,000 refugees at the camps in Jordan in addition to 461,000 refugees outside the camps, but now with the low amounts of contributions we cannot afford all that."
"As a start, we decreased the monthly amount we pay each refugee monthly from 28$ per person, to $14," Etefa said. "But that was not enough, so we were forced to take the difficult decision which is to stop supplies to some of the refugees out of the camps starting from next month. We will only supply the 100,000 refugees in the camps in addition to 250,000 refugees outside the camps. This means that 211,000 won't be supplied for."
On the Zaa'tari Refugee Camp Facebook page, Hamoodah Mekawi, a Jordanian journalist who focuses on Syrian refugee camps, described the situation as "crazy."
"Taking that decision is like taking the decision of cutting the lifeline for all those people," he said. Mekawi also accused the WFP of making calculated decisions over which families would continue receiving food aid.
"They decided that if the family had more than six individuals then the WFP will keep supplying it with food, if the family is less than six then it will no longer receive food," he told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview.
Etefa said the WFP was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
"Although some countries like the United States and Canada were very generous [in their donations], we still cannot cover all the refugee needs. We still need more donations, and then we may take back the 211,000 refugees who were excluded from the WFP food aid program. Frankly, unless we receive new donations, I am afraid that will be impossible."
Maged Atef is a journalist based in Cairo.
Contact Maged Atef at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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