04/10/2014 03:59 EDT | Updated 06/10/2014 05:59 EDT

Syria reaches 'worst case scenario' on feeding displaced civilians: UN

OTTAWA - The United Nations says the food crisis facing displaced Syrian civilians has now reached the worst-case scenario, with no end in sight.

That is forcing the UN World Food Program to cut food distribution by 16 per cent this month to millions of internally displaced people and refugees after a 20-cent-cut in March, said Muhannad Hadi, the agency's emergency co-ordinator for Syria.

This comes as more people than ever before are solely dependent on the agency to feed them, and as the WFP predicts its desperate client list — from inside Syria and neighbouring countries — to grow from 5.8 million to seven million by year end, said Hadi.

"From day one, we have prepared ourselves for the worst case scenario, but the fact is we never though the worst case scenario would be for so long," Hadi said Thursday in an interview from Washington.

"We are operating hand to mouth," he added.

"The story we will tell you is a simple, simple story: either we feed those people or they will go hungry. It's as simple as that. There are no other options. This is the last resort."

Hadi praised Canada for its generous humanitarian assistance of $100 million towards the crisis, but he said the need continues to rise so the WFP is calling on countries to do more.

The WFP immediately needs $306 million to feed displaced Syrians from April until June, and it will need to raise a total of $1.26 billion by the end of the year.

Hadi said the number of refugees is predicted to grow in the coming year to at least 2.7 million, on top of the 4.25 million Syrians displaced within their country.

In Ottawa, the NDP called on the Harper government to increase the number of Syrian refugees it is allowing into the country.

Foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said the government needs to increase its quota of 1,300 Syrian refugees. "Canada can do more," he said.

Hadi rejected the suggestion that getting more Syrian refugees out of the region and resettled in other countries would ease pressure.

"What will make our life easier, and everybody's life easier is for the conflict to end, to find a political solution so those refugees can go back to their homes and start rebuilding their country," he said.

"I assure you, those people want to go back to their homes."

He also said Syrians receiving food often ask where it is coming from. Hadi says he personally names contributing countries and has identified Canada.

"I know that because I talk to people there," he said.

"The Syrian people have great respect for Canada."