ROME, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The World Food Programme announced Monday that a lack of funding has forced it to suspend a food voucher program for Syrian refugees.
The food voucher program enables Syrian refugees residing in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to buy food at local shops in their host countries.
The WFP is appealing to international donors for the $64 million needed to fund the program for the month of December.
"We are very concerned about the negative impact these cuts will have on the refugees, as well as the countries which host them. These countries have shouldered a heavy burden throughout the crisis," said Muhannad Hadi, WFP Regional Emergency Coordinator for the Syria Crisis.
The food aid suspension could be particularly devastating in Lebanon, where over 1.1m Syrian refugees are scattered across 1,700 communities— UNHCRNews (@RefugeesMedia) December 1, 2014
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres launched an appeal on behalf of WFP after the announcement, urging the international community to "support WFP now, don't let refugees go hungry."
"This couldn't come at a worse time," Guterres said. "Winter is already an extremely difficult period for Syrian refugees, but the suspension of food assistance at this critical juncture is going to be devastating. It will impact tens of thousands of the most vulnerable refugee families who are almost entirely dependent on international aid."
WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said many donors have not yet fulfilled their financial commitments. If there is new funding, WFP said it "will immediately resume assistance."
UPI contacted WFP to ascertain whether the current funding shortfall would continue into the new year but has not yet received a response.