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WILPF Is Mobilising to Support Syrian Refugees and Stop Militarisation

5 December 2014

On Monday, 1 December 2014, we were shocked to hear that the World Food Programme (WFP) had to suspend its assistance to 1.7 million refugees because of a funding crisis.

The Programme announced a $64 million shortfall in a press release, attributing the problem to “unfulfilled” donor commitments.

The role of the World Food Programme
United Nations Relief Food Arrives in Lebanese Town. Photo credit: United Nations Photo
United Nations Relief Food Arrives in Lebanese Town.
Photo credit: United Nations Photo

The WFP has provided food vouchers for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. This suspension could have terrible humanitarian consequences for the more than 1.7 million refugees that are affected, as most refugee camps and settlements are ill prepared for the upcoming winter.

International Crisis response

On 15 January this year, the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference was hosted by Kuwait and chaired by the UN Secretary-General.

At this encouraging initiative, 40 Member States pledged a total amount of $2,4 billion to the Syria crisis. However, as of 2 December 2014 the committed pledges were only $1,8 billion, or 76%, out of the original pledges, according to Untied Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

This is deeply worrying against the background of a humanitarian crisis situation and military spending on the rise in the area.

Where does the money go instead?

Meanwhile, military spending is rising in some of the very same countries that have failed to make their donation pledges. Increased militarisation contributes to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation for Syrian refugees.

With the increasing military efforts against ISIS, the United States is expected to spend an additional $30 billion to $40 billion for war operations in the Middle East a year, according to the Fiscal Times. In a study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the cost of operations against ISIL is estimated likely to range from $200 million to $1,8 billion per month, depending on the level of operations involved.

Other countries are also stepping up their military action in the area – Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – are some of the countries mentioned by the BBC in this context.

Linking humanitarian crises and military spending

WILPF seeks to draw attention to the links between the WFP’s suspension of humanitarian assistance and the increasing military spending. It is important that we raise awareness about the need to improve conditions for civilians, rather than investing in military destructive powers. We can start by thanking those who have given or have pledged to give humanitarian aid and assistance.

WILPF is working closely with our Sections to encourage the governments that did not yet fulfill their pledge to commit the remaining amount.

Help us mobilise to take a stand against misdirected spending by contacting your WILPF Section, or contacts within your government to encourage them to meet their pledge!

Find more information and see if your government fulfilled their pledge here.

For more background information you can also contact us at

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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