International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Syrian Refugees Warn They Have No Choice But to Return to Syria After Aid Cuts to Food, Health

MAFRAQ, Jordan 03 Dec 2014 - 
  • Food aid suspension comes at heels of healthcare cuts for refugees in Jordan
  • With diminishing aid, Syrian refugees at higher risk of child labor, sexual violence and eviction
  • With winter temperatures dropping, Syrian refugees struggle to keep warm and fed with aid cuts

Dozens of Syrian women refugees have told the International Rescue Committee in Jordan and Lebanon that they would be forced to go back to war-torn Syria if they suffer more cuts to aid. They told the IRC they now fear an increase in evictions, sexual exploitation, child labor and increased debt.

This comes after the World Food Programme announced Monday that due to a severe funding shortfall it would suspend life-saving food aid to 1.7 million Syrian refugees across the Middle East living outside official UN-assisted camps. The WFP food vouchers helped millions of Syrian refugees not only to buy food, but also pay for rent and provide basic needs for their families. The WFP suspension is an added stress to Syrian refugees in Jordan whose government cut free healthcare on November 18th, 2014.

“Now I will return to Syria. I don’t have any other choice,” said Mona, a 41-year-old Syrian mother to eight children. “It would be better for me to die from hunger in my own country than to die from hunger in Jordan.”

The IRC spoke to dozens of women like Mona who are worried about keeping their families alive without this aid. With winter temperatures dropping dramatically, Syrian refugees are also struggling to keep their families warm and clothed without life-saving aid and the increased risk of eviction. While services are limited and stretched for refugees outside Syria, conditions inside the war-torn country are even worse, with many areas lacking basic shelter and ridden with violence.

“We are very worried that this reduction in aid to already vulnerable Syrian refugees will result in many deciding they have no alternative but to risk their lives back in Syria,” said IRC Jordan field coordinator Meghan Garrity. “For those who stay we will likely see an increase in risky coping behaviours such as early and forced marriage and child labour as families struggle to afford to feed and clothe their families or pay their rent.”

The IRC is calling on the international community to share the burden of Syria’s crisis by financially funding humanitarian aid to plug the gaps in basic services and to offer long-term development support. Countries should also agree to resettle refugees and take their fair share of refugees.


The International Rescue Committee helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. IRC teams provide health care, infrastructure, learning and economic support to people in 40 countries, with special programs designed for women and children. Every year, the IRC resettles thousands of refugees in 22 U.S. cities. Learn more at and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.

IRC Contact Information

Hadeel Al-Shalchi


Ollie Money

+1212 551 2744, +1646 318 7307

Paul Donohoe

+44 (0)20 7692 2727/ 07779 624 385