Syrian refugees leave after shopping with their humanitarian aid vouchers from a Tazweed Center at Al-Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, December 7, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
The UN 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.
The WFP said on Dec. 1 it was suspending the aid because it had run out of money. This meant electronic vouchers allowing refugees to buy food in stores were not topped up for December, putting them at risk of hunger during the harsh winter period.
The agency said on Tuesday that a fundraising drive since then had raised $80 million, which will allow it to distribute new funds of around $30 per family member by mid-December and also leaving some funding for next month.
"This outpouring of support in such a short time is unprecedented," WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said in a statement.
Government donations made up the bulk of the amount raised while individuals and private sector donors in 158 countries contributed $1.8 million, it added. It did not say which states had donated money.
Syrian refugees who had their food aid cut said that without it they would be unable to feed themselves, educate their children or warm their tents through the winter.
Syria's civil war is entering its fourth winter and donors have provided just over half the money the United Nations sought this year.