The humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. More and more people are being made destitute as fighting continues. The World Food Programme (WFP) is struggling to meet the urgent food needs of more than five million displaced people in Syria and in neighbouring countries. Food operations are severely underfunded, meaning that WFP has been forced to reduce the level of assistance it provides to refugees across the region.
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WFP has three main goals under its Syria response
1) To deliver food to people affected by conflict, malnourished children, pregnant women and nursing mothers;
2) To provide emergency food assistance, and;
3) To offer tailored programmes focusing on relief and recovery, school feeding and nutrition.
In October, as a result of new donor support, WFP has been able to increase the value loaded onto the electronic vouchers it uses to provide food assistance to extremely vulnerable Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon to an average of US$21 per person per month – 80 percent of the full intended voucher value. This is a positive development as assistance was cut down to 50 percent on average during the previous months due to a severe lack of funding.
WFP reaches more than four million people every month inside Syria with urgently needed food and provides electronic food vouchers (e-card) to 1.3 million refugees in neighbouring countries.
WFP knows that host countries are affected by the burden of the refugee crisis. And thanks to the e-card system, WFP has contributed more than US$1 billion into the local economies of the Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt and has created thousands of local jobs in the food retail sector.
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General food distribution
Every month, WFP distributes family food rations to displaced and conflict-affected families across the country. These rations contain staple food items including rice, bulgur wheat, pasta, lentils, canned food, sugar, salt, cooking oil and wheat flour. Around four million people benefit from this assistance every month.
Relief and recovery
As the conflict drags on, WFP is working with key partners to build resilience in relatively stable areas. Food assistance for some displaced families will be provided as an incentive to work on rehabilitating infrastructure, vegetable gardening or poultry production with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
In 2014, WFP launched a school feeding programme in Syria in partnership with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education. WFP is supporting 164,000 children through this programme in schools in Tartous, Rural Damascus, Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hama. Children receive date bars fortified with vitamins and minerals to encourage them to enroll and stay in school.
WFP’s nutrition programme for pregnant women and nursing mothers helps 5,000 mothers in Homs and Lattakia to buy fresh produce, dairy and meat products to supplement their diets using WFP food vouchers. WFP plans to expand this programme to other governorates, reaching 15,000 mothers this year.
Critical funding shortages
Millions of Syrian refugees need help and we have an obligation to ensure that their basic needs are met. Syrians in despair are now taking extreme measures to cope including returning to Syria or leaving host countries for elsewhere. Those in the most difficult and vulnerable situations in neighbouring countries are unable to move because they cannot afford it.
Critical funding shortages have forced WFP to reduce the level of assistance it provides to almost 1.3 million vulnerable Syrian refugees in the region. With the value of food vouchers reduced, most refugees are now living on around 50 cents a day.
How you can helpInside Syria, WFP has received only a fraction of its funding requirements so far in 2015. This has resulted in a significant decrease of the food ration to only 74 percent of its intended size, meaning that families have to eat smaller meals, less frequently.
WFP immediately needs US$142 million to continue providing a lifeline to Syrians affected by the conflict until the end of the year. Sustainable and predictable funding is needed to ensure that WFP assistance continues.
- Please donate today and help get life-saving food reach families who need us the most.