Cash-strapped UN stops aid to Syria refugees in Jordan

Syrian refugees at the UN-run Zaatari refugee camp, north east of the Jordanian capital Amman (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi) (AFP/File)

Amman (AFP) - The UN food agency said on Friday it has ceased assistance to 229,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan because of a lack of funds, but will continue to provide for 211,000 others.

"Due to a lack of funds we had to suspend from the first of September assistance to 229,000 Syrians who live in Jordan, outside (UN) refugee camps," World Food Programme spokeswoman Dina El-Kassaby said.

However, the WFP will continue to provide aid to 211,000 vulnerable Syrians outside refugee camps, she added.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR estimates that more than four million Syrians have fled the civil war that has scarred their country and reportedly killed 240,000 people.

Most have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

More than 1.1 million fled to Lebanon, while Jordan has taken in 600,000 refugees, according to the UNHCR. Amman puts the figure higher at 1.4 million, or 20 percent of Jordan's population.

Kassaby said the WFP needs $26 million (23 million euros) weekly to feed four million vulnerable Syrians inside Syria and 1.5 million others who fled to neighbouring countries.

Lebanon and Jordan have complained that their already poor resources are overstretched, and UN agencies have repeatedly appealed for donors to help them aid needy Syrians.

In Jordan, around 80 percent of the Syrians live outside UN-run refugee camps, but most still rely on food coupons issued by the WFP and the generosity of other aid groups and citizens to survive.

"Assistance inside the camps has not changed," Kassaby told AFP.

According to the UNHCR, some 7.6 million Syrians have been displaced inside their country by the devastating war.