More than 200,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan learned via text message that the U.N. food aid they rely on to survive is getting completely cut.
The World Food Program has been warning since as early as last summer that a funding crisis has stretched the organization thin, and has caused the group to cut back on resources it can offer Syrian refugees in Jordan. But refugees say the latest announcement caught them completely off guard.
“What shall I do? Sell myself or sell my three girls?” Om Rabab, a refugee who goes by a pseudonym for security reasons, told BuzzFeed.
Earlier this month, 229,000 refugees who live in urban communities in Jordan, were notified that they would lose out entirely on their food vouchers. They had been receiving $14 per month, and now they will not receive any assistance from WFP, Julie Marshall, Canadian spokesperson for WFP, told The Huffington Post.
Their options right now are grim.
They can either return to a conflict zone in Syria, settle in a refugee camp or try making the risky journey to Europe.
This year alone, 2,500 migrants and refugees have died trying to get to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, according to UNHCR.
“We have been forced to make some very difficult decisions, and have cut rations of extremely vulnerable refugees, because we can no longer afford to continue at this level of assistance because of lack of funds,” Marshall said.
She confirmed to HuffPost that the aid decision was, in fact, delivered to the impacted refugees via text message. Marshall added that these types of announcements are disseminated via text message because it’s a “good way to reach” refugees.
The cuts come at a time when the number of refugees is swelling, leading the WFP to a breaking point.
By the end of 2011, about 2,000 Syrians resettled in Jordan. The country is now home to about 630,000 Syrian refugees.
Even with the recent significant cuts, WFP is desperate for additional funds to keep its programs running.
To continue its mitigated level of assistance, WFP immediately needs $236 million to dole out food assistance and food vouchers through November, Marshall said.
WFP has urged donors to step up to help the refugees who have no choice but to take drastic measures in order to survive.
Marshall noted that many parents have sold all of their possessions, are spending less on medication and many have taken their kids out of school in order to send them to work to help feed the family.
“The longer the crisis drags on,” Marshall said, “the more desperate refugees become.”
Find out more about the World Food Program and what you can do here.