Breakthrough As WFP Food Convoy Reaches Besieged Syrian Town

Published on 22 June 2017

For almost one year, WFP has only been able to bring food to families in Qamishli via airlifts. Photo: WFP

DAMASCUS – A convoy of three trucks from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) using a newly opened land corridor has arrived in Qamishli in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh governorate, carrying lifesaving food assistance for hungry families. This is the first time that WFP has been able to deliver food by land in two years since the area became inaccessible in December 2015. Since that time, WFP has had to operate costly airlifts to bring food to vulnerable families.

The convoy delivered a month’s supply of food for 15,000 people. “This humanitarian breakthrough will allow us to increase regular support for all 250,000 people in need in Hasakeh, compared to the 190,000 people we were able to assist through airlifts,” said Jakob Kern, WFP Country Director and Representative in Syria. “Road deliveries are also far more cost-efficient.”

Overland access to Hasakeh was made possible due to an improved security situation. For almost a year, WFP has conducted two airlifts per day, six days a week to deliver food assistance and relief supplies for people who were otherwise cut off from support. 

“Once regular land access to Hasakeh is established, WFP will gradually phase out of its current airlift operation,” Kern added. 

Replacing the current airlift operation with land access to Hasakeh is expected to save an estimated US$19 million per year, which is enough to provide an additional 100,000 people with food assistance for one year.

The limited cargo capacity allowed by airlifts meant that only critical food items were prioritized for delivery. With the resumption of road deliveries, WFP will be able to send fortified date bars to resume its school meals programme. WFP will also reintroduce wheat flour in monthly food rations that contain staple food items such as cooking oil, rice and canned foods.  

Every month, WFP delivers food assistance to four million vulnerable people across all 14 governorates in Syria. In addition to its emergency operation, WFP is also scaling up support for long-term recovery by focusing on livelihoods, nutrition and improving access to primary education for children in Syria through school meals.

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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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For more information please contact:
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +2010 66634352
Dina El-Kassaby, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +2010 15218882
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 65132321, Mob. +39 346 7600521
Bettina Luescher, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. + 41-79-842-8057
Gerald Bourke, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-5566909, Mob.  +1-646 525 9982
Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington DC, Tel. +1 202 653 1149, Mob. +1 202 770 5993