UN suspends refugee food aid

Submitted by Matthew on 3 December, 2014 - 10:32 Author: Simon Nelson

The UN World Food Programme has suspended the food aid scheme for the 1.6 million Syrian refugees now living in Iraq and Jordan until new funding is secured.

The suspension of the programme, costing £41 million for December alone, could create a crisis for refugees.

More than 3.2 million Syrians have become refugees since the beginning of the conflict with President Assad; a further 7.6 million have been internally displaced. 200,000 Syrians have been killed, 60,000 civilians.

The death toll in Kobane continues to rise with casualties on both sides. 11 Kurds and 50 ISIS (“Islamic state”, Daesh) supporters have been reportedly killed in the very recent past. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Islamic State deaths would be from suicide bombings, clashes with Kurdish forces or the US airstrikes.

Coalition airstrikes in Syria are said to have killed 600 ISIS fighters; large concentrations of fighters heading to Kobane make it easier for them to be targeted. Despite the apparent success of some airstrikes, ISIS are still in control of large swathes of territory and Kobane remains besieged by their forces.

ISIS have been targeting the border area in an attempt to disrupt the small numbers of Kurdish fighters that manage to cross over the Turkish border. Turkey has again attempted to restrict further Kurdish forces going to Kobane but has tried to impose free passage for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) into the area.

The Turkish Government backs the FSA in its continuing fight against the Syrian regime and FSA fighters have joined the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Iraqi Peshmerga forces in fighting IS. However the FSA remain largely hostile to the rights of autonomy and self-determination for the Kurds. At its founding it rejected the demand for Kurdish self-determination. It has an Arab chauvinist outlook and include groups within its ranks who are strongly opposed to the largely secular Kurdish forces.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has confirmed a further 150 Peshmerga fighters will be joining the YPG forces in Kobane. Unlike the YPG, the Peshmerga are able to respond to ISIS attacks with artillery and other heavy weapons.

The Peshmerga have also claimed some success in Iraq — they say they have taken over five villages from IS fighters. The vilages, which are south of Erbil, have been controlled by both government forces and IS on several occasions. The Iraqi army has also recaptured towns in the Diyala province between Baghdad and the Iranian border.

Whether these gains will be maintained is not easy to predict.

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