World Food Programme Fails To Feed Displaced Iraqis

Displaced Iraqi people continue to face hunger pains as food rations are cut. The World Food Programme, (WFP), which manages emergency food aid has reduced food rations by 50% to 1.4million displaced Iraqis. This organization aims to provide emergency food at half a kilogram, per person, per day, but has failed to do so. Citing both delays in donor payments from developed countries and an increasing number of Iraqi people fleeing ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the WFP is struggling to cope. These cutbacks have left displaced people feeling disillusioned with the WFP assistance given to them. Safa Shaker, who fled with her family of 11 to the Hassam Sham camp, east of Mosul, stated “…this ration is not going to be enough. We escaped from Daesh [ISIS] in order to have a chance to live….and they have cut the aid. How are we supposed to live?”. Another person in the same camp, Omar Shukri Mahmoud, insisted, “They are giving an entire family the food supply of one person…we want to go back home.” A spokeswoman from the WFP, Inger Marie Vennize, confirmed that donor country commitments were arriving late and this had necessitated a 50% reduction in food rations. She explained that talks were in progress with the larger donor countries to secure sufficient funds to restore full rations.

Failure to adequately meet food requirements for displaced Iraqi people diminishes both credibility and confidence in the World Food Programme’s ability to help those in urgent need of food. According to the Global Forum Policy, financial shortfalls in this organization are not new. In 2008, the WFP reduced food rations citing financial shortfalls for such action. Understanding and learning from past experiences is essential and has not occurred to date. Financial contributions are sourced from donor countries using a voluntary process and often have a short term focus. Lack of true commitment to the emergency needs of displaced people, loss of interest in specific causes, national interests and manipulation of donor governments to promote a specific political agenda are all possible reasons why donations are slow to be delivered. The United States of America (USA) is the largest government donor, along with Germany and Japan, although money is also received from corporations and individuals worldwide. To avert future financial crises, the voluntary funding must be more predictable, more timely and proactively given without reminders.

In the western world, ISIS is regarded as a terrorist group which uses the element of surprise on innocent civilians to wage war on anti-Muslim ideologies. Displaced Iraqi people have been innocent victims of the harsh brutalities conducted by members of this group. As ISIS gained territory in Iraq and Syria, their violence increased in fierceness and intensity. Increasing numbers of displaced civilians are challenging the international community’s ability to cope. Pressure has also been placed on staff at the WFP as they strive to provide sufficient emergency food for those who need it. The newly elected President of the USA has reduced this country’s contribution to the United Nations by 40%. As a result of the United Nations’ links with the WFP, available funds for emergency food in Iray has been impacted negatively. Cash donations are preferred by the WFP as food sourced locally reduces transport costs and provides greater flexibility when assisting displaced people who are hungry.

Vulnerable populations exposed to on-going terrorist action deserve to have their food needs met. Financial shortfalls in the WFP are not new as they have emerged in previous years and obviously have not been satisfactorily resolved. Countries who contribute funding must learn to contribute in a predictable, timely and proactive way so emergency food rations can meet the needs of the ever increasing numbers of displaced people. The system also requires forward future planning so the WFP can build reserve funds. If the international community values the importance of humanitarian assistance, then proactive financial backing needs to happen immediately.

Louisa Slack

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The Organization for World Peace