In war v. hunger, war wins

Lost in the online flagellation over the closing of Nye’s in Minneapolis, was a much more serious closing: The World Food Program has run out of money and has ended its role as an emergency relief provider to refugees in Syria.

There are 1.7 million of them and they’re going to go hungry through the winter.

The New York Times raises the possibility today that the organization is “crying wolf.”

“We did foreshadow it. We did warn about it,” Emilia Casella, a World Food Program spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview. She denied any suggestion that the suspension was a pressure tactic aimed at donors who have failed to deliver on their pledges. “We’ve exhausted all the options that we had,” she said. “We weren’t crying wolf.”

The United States gave the agency $125 million last week: $70 million to cover the cost of refugee vouchers in November, and $55 million to support food deliveries to about four million people in Syria until year’s end. But the agency said that it needed a further $64 million to support its voucher assistance operation in December and that food aid in Syria would come to a halt in February if it did not receive additional funds.

Once the money arrives, Ms. Casella said, the food voucher cards could be recharged immediately and the suspension would be lifted.

It is not the first time that the World Food Program has reduced assistance because of a budget crisis. Two weeks ago, for example, it curtailed food aid to 500,000 refugees in Kenya displaced by the instability in Somalia and Sudan.

The announcement of the food cut-off came a day after 60 Minutes aired an extensive report on the coming starvation.