December 1st, 2014

NDP asks the Conservatives to boost aid to Syrian refugees facing food crisis

New Democrats are calling on the Canadian government to urgently increase humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees, as a funding crisis today forced the United Nations World Food Programme to suspend a food voucher program serving over 1.7 million refugees in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

“This food assistance program is literally saving lives,” said Hélène Laverdière, NDP International Development Critic (Laurier—Ste-Marie). “Refugees – more than half of which are children – are facing a fourth brutal winter away from home. This suspension will be devastating. Canada must show global leadership and step up with funds to help immediately restart this essential aid program.”

The World Food Programme has said that $64 million is required to support the refugees for the rest of December, and that it will immediately resume the program if new funding arrives. In April, rations to Syrian refugees had been cut by a fifth due to a shortage of donor funds.

“Millions who have been forced to flee the violence in Syria rely on this program to keep hunger at bay,” said Paul Dewar, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic (Ottawa Centre). “It’s also critical for stability in the countries hosting these refugees. Canada must do everything possible to get it started again.”