The U.N.'s World Food Program said today it was resuming food assistance to refugees from Syria in neighboring countries after its suspension of food vouchers earlier this month resulted in donations that exceeded the $64 million needed for the program to continue.
"By mid-December, Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt will have their electronic food vouchers – also known as e-cards – uploaded with an average amount of US$30 per family member so that they can immediately use them to buy food from local shops," the World Food Program said in a statement.
More than 1.7 million refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey used the program when it was suspended Dec. 1. The WFP launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #ADollarALifeline to raise money. It raised $1.8 million through the hashtag.
The largest contributions on WFP's website came from Americans, Canadians and Syrians, in that order. The Aloe Blacc song "I Need A Dollar" served as the soundtrack for the online campaign. In all, the organization raised $80 million, including from governments, surpassing the goal of $64 million, which allows the program to continue this month.
"This outpouring of support in such a short time is unprecedented," WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said in the statement. "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 violence in Syria, which began in 2011, created a humanitarian crisis and more than 3 million refugees. Another 6.5 million Syrians have been internally displaced by the fighting pitting President Bashar Assad's forces against a coalition of rebel groups, both moderate and Islamist.