“This couldn’t come at a worse time,” stated UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

Guterres’s comment is in response to the UN World Food Programme’s announcement Monday that it was suspending its food assistance to Syrian refugees as a result of a “funding crisis.”

The suspension of the program means that many of the over 1.7 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries that had depended on the program’s food vouchers to buy food will now go hungry, the WFP states.

The suspension “will endanger the health and safety of these refugees and will potentially cause further tensions, instability and insecurity in the neighboring host countries,” stated WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

Many of the refugees are in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, and already faced lack of access to necessary hygiene, clothing, shelter, and more.

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With the cold winter season about to hit, these refugees may find themselves further on the brink, the agencies warn.

“Winter is already an extremely difficult period for Syrian refugees, but the suspension of food assistance at this critical juncture is going to be devastating,” Guterres’s statement continued.

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The conflict that has gripped the country since 2011 has created over 3 million refugees—roughly half the country’s population. The UN refugee office has called it “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.”

As Common Dreams reported last month,

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