THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
UN WORLD FOOD PROGRAM FUNDING CRISIS
TUESDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2014
The Abbott Government must act immediately to help relieve the UN World Food Program’s (WFP) funding crisis which threatens to see more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees go hungry through winter.
The WFP says it has been forced to suspend its food voucher program for Syrian refugees due to lack of funding. It has called for $US64 million immediately so support can be resumed this month.
Instead of threatening further cuts to Australia’s overseas aid budget, the Abbott Government must step up and contribute funds to help resolve this terrible humanitarian emergency.
This WFP food voucher program allows Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt to buy food in local shops.
The conflict in Syria has caused an overwhelming humanitarian crisis, with 3 million refugees, and another 6.5 million internally displaced. This has put significant pressure on international aid agencies, including the WFP.
I visited Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon earlier this year. The need there is enormous. The international community, including Australia, can’t let those families, those children, go through winter without food.
The Abbott Government has only contributed about $35 million to humanitarian relief for the Syrian crisis. By contrast, the former Labor Government delivered around $100 million in assistance.
In its first Budget, the Abbott Government has cut $7.6 billion from overseas aid, including $51.1 million from the Middle East and North Africa.
By contrast, the former Labor Government almost doubled the aid budget – from $2.9 billion to $5.7 billion.