Skip to main content

A Syrian refugee girl holds a cart outside tents at a refugee camp in Akkar, northern Lebanon December 9, 2014. The U.N. World Food Programme is restarting food aid for 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt after it received enough donations to fund the halted programme.

STRINGER/REUTERS

After a social-media campaign brought in a significant cash infusion, the UN food agency said Tuesday it has reinstated a food aid program that helps feed more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees.

In early December, the World Food Programme (WFP) suspended electronic food vouchers for Syrians who had fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. The move triggered panic among the refugees, threatening to starve thousands of families and add pressure on the already strained countries hosting them.

At the time, WFP said many donors failed to meet their commitments. The agency said it needed $64-million (U.S.) to support Syrian refugees in December alone.

Story continues below advertisement

On Tuesday, WFP said the voucher program was on again, thanks an unusual campaign it launched on social media to raise $1 contributions from 64 million people around the world.

The WFP said it solicited $1.8-million in donations from almost 14,000 people and from private sector donors in 158 countries, as part of a campaign using the hashtag #ADollarALifeline. Other UN agencies, such as UNICEF and the UN's humanitarian office, also promoted the campaign through social media.

The biggest online contributors through the agency's address – www.wfp.org/ForSyrianRefugees – were Americans, then Canadians, then Syrians themselves. Aloe Blacc's song I Need a Dollar was the online campaign's featured soundtrack for the #ADollarALifeline video launched on social media channels.

"This outpouring of support in such a short time is unprecedented," the food agency's chief Ertharin Cousin said. "We're especially grateful to the many individual members of the public who reached into their own pockets to send whatever they could to help Syrian refugees who have lost everything. They showed that even as little as a dollar can make a difference."

The program pays for electronic vouchers, or e-cards, uploaded with an average $30 per family member, for refugees to buy food in local shops. The resumption of the food aid is bound to bring some relief to the desperate refugees ahead of the coming winter months.

WFP has helped feed millions of displaced people inside Syria and those who fled abroad since the crisis erupted in March, 2011. The Syrian war has so far killed more than 200,000 people and led to a massive humanitarian crisis, forcing more than three million to seek refuge abroad and displacing 6.5 million within the country.

Also Tuesday, Western countries pledged to take in more Syrian refugees. The UN refugee agency said that between the pledges and "indications of future commitments," the available places for refugees should reach about 100,000 in the months ahead. That's still far from the 130,000 places the agency called for back in February.

Story continues below advertisement

The violence in Syria continues unabated.

A government rocket attack on Monday in the southern province of Daraa killed three staffers working for Orient TV, an opposition-linked channel, according to activist Ahmad al-Masalmeh and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The three, a cameraman and two reporters, were driving out of the contested village of Sheikh Maskeen, where they had been covering clashes between government troops and opposition fighters, when the rocket slammed into their car, the Observatory said.

Dozens of journalists have been killed in Syria since the start of the crisis. Authorities in Damascus restrict access to independent foreign media while local reporters work under heavy restrictions.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies