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.
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 of 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 up to 1.5 million refugees in neighbouring countries.
WFP knows that host countries are affected by the burden of the refugee crisis. And, thanks to the food e-card system, WFP has injected more than US$1 billion into the local economies of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt and helped create 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 Syria. These rations contain staple food items including rice, bulgur wheat, pasta, lentils, canned food, sugar, salt, cooking oil and wheat flour. More than 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. In December 2015, WFP distributed healthy school snacks to 375,000 children in primary schools in Rural Damascus, Damascus city, Aleppo, Homs, Tartous and Al-Hasakeh.
Children receive date bars fortified with vitamins and minerals to encourage them to enrol and stay in school. WFP started also in December distributing the first batch of locally produced date bars that WFP purchased from a local manufacturer contracted in late August, which sources the raw materials from Syrian wholesalers and employs 15 people, including 5 women, involved in all stages of production. This initiative is a milestone in WFP’s effort to strengthen and build resilience in Syria.
WFP’s nutrition programme for pregnant women and nursing mothers helps more than 7,000 mothers in Homs and Lattakia buy fresh produce, dairy and meat products to supplement their diets using WFP food vouchers. WFP plans to expand this programme to Tartous, Aleppo and Qamishly over the first quarter of 2016, reaching 15,000 mothers.
To prevent child malnutrition, WFP also aims to provide supplementary feeding products to 240,000 children under the age of five in eight Syrian governorates.
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.
In 2015, WFP faced critical funding shortages that forced it to reduce the level of assistance it provides to vulnerable Syrians inside and outside the country.
How you can help
Sustainable and predictable funding is needed to ensure that WFP assistance continues.
- Please donate today and help get life-saving food to families who need it the most. Our work is 100% voluntarily funded, and 90% of every contribution gets to beneficiaries. Every donation makes a difference. Just $50 will provide food for a child for the next three months.