Cutting Iraq WFP Aid
The United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) began providing food aid and humanitarian assistance to Iraq in 1991. In October 2016, 1.2 million Iraqis received food assistance from the WFP. However, a staggering 4.4 million across the nation are still in need.

Due to cuts in funding from donor states, the WFP has reduced food rations in Iraq by 50%. The move will leave 1.4 million displaced Iraqis without assistance, although the agency is negotiating on how to regain full funding from donors such as the United States, Germany and Japan.

Occupation of the region by Islamic State facilitated the destruction of massive annual barley and wheat harvests, destroying an annual one-third of the nation’s crop yields. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace also attributes increasing influxes of internally displaced persons and Syrian refugees, inefficient supply chains, lack of governing infrastructure and cash shortages to be at the root of Iraq’s food supply crisis.

Agencies active in providing assistance include Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration, United Nations organizations and the WFP. These actors constitute the foundation of social protections and safety nets for Iraqi citizens through food distribution, development and financial support.

According to an Iraq WFP aid study on social protections from the Centre for Social Protection at the Institute of Development Studies, Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration granted financial aid of 300,000 dinars (USD$255) to 9,373 families displaced among a dozen countries. This ministry also runs a “human stability” program.

Although cornucopias of vulnerable populations, an absence of adequate legal statutes and corruption are all hurdles to food assistance, there are steps that can be taken to improve Iraqi social protection systems. For example, the WFP recommends “building the capacity of social protection research, increasing the number of beneficiaries and demanding inclusion of the unemployed in social welfare systems.”

Amber Bailey

Photo: Flickr

Refugees In Jordan
In the past five years, the Syrian Civil War has turned into one of the biggest humanitarian crises of the 21st century. Millions of civilians have been displaced from their homes and forced to flee to other countries. This has created a refugee crisis the likes of which hasn’t been seen since World War II. Few countries have borne a greater brunt of this crisis then Jordan. Here are eight facts about refugees in Jordan.

  1. There was a massive flow of Syrian refugees into Jordan. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there were over 620,000 Syrians living in Jordan as of June 2015.
  2. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 80 percent of refugees in the country have adequate housing/shelter.
  3. A majority of Syrian refugees are being hosted by some of Jordan’s poorest communities with Amman, Irbid and Mafraq taking on over 76 percent of all Syrian refugees in Jordan. This is causing strain on public services and infrastructure and is creating tension between Jordanians and refugees.
  4. Many Syrian refugees lack basic services. Only 22 percent of refugee households have their basic domestic and hygiene needs meet. Additionally, 20 percent of refugee households do not have access to primary health care and 30 percent do not have access to tertiary health care.
  5. A large number of Syrian refugee children in Jordan are not receiving a proper education. Over 80,000 out of 226,000 children did not receive a formal education last year.
  6. Human Rights Watch explains that most of the barriers to children receiving education stem from unnecessary restrictions placed by the Jordanian government. These include unattainable registration requirements, bans on enrollment for children who haven’t been to school in three or more years and sanctions for refugees working without proper permits. By easing these restrictions, more children will be able to attend school.
  7. Syrian refugees are legally banned from participating in the formal Jordanian economy. Despite this, hundreds of thousands of refugees participate in informal jobs often in the construction or agricultural sectors.
  8. Despite the focus on the negative aspects of Syrian refugees in Jordan, there are a number of positive aspects as well. The influx of refugees has led to an increase in public investment in addition to a growth in the communication, manufacturing and construction sectors; all of which has led to a real GDP growth rate increase of 2.7 percent according to the World Bank.

While the situation in Jordan is problematic, it is by no means hopeless. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace outlines a number of measures that can be taken to help improve the lives of both Syrian refugees and Jordanian citizens. Increased humanitarian and developmental aid can be implemented to help meet the basic needs of refugees.

Allowing refugees access to formal employment will help create a more sustainable situation by allowing refugees to become more self-sufficient. Greater governmental aid can be provided to the Jordanian government to improve their capacity to manage the situation.

James Long

Photo: Flickr