GAZA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners today launched a special food distribution in Gaza for 730,000 people who are not receiving food under other programmes – in an effort to reach all conflict-affect people in Gaza with some form of food assistance.
Following the announcement of a 72-hour ceasefire, which started Sunday night, WFP and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) today started distributing one-time food parcels of 10 kg rice and 30 kg of wheat flour to 143,000 families, amounting to the 730,000 people. Security situation permitting, the distribution should be completed in two weeks. Prior to this distribution, the combined food assistance programmes of the two agencies in Gaza was already reaching 1.1 million people.
“We want to provide relief for all families affected by the conflict in Gaza, including those host families who have opened their homes in solidarity with friends and relatives; sharing their food and resources during these very difficult times,” said Pablo Recalde, WFP Country Director in Palestine.
To date, the WFP emergency response has included:
• Emergency ready-to-eat food for almost 263,000 displaced people taking refuge in UNRWA schools and nearly 13,000 people in public shelters.
• Electronic food vouchers to 8,000 displaced families – approximately 48,000 people – who are living with host families. With the vouchers, families can buy nutritious food in nearby shops and with the launch of a joint emergency programme by WFP and UNICEF, voucher recipients can also purchase water and sanitary items.
• A total of 2,039 patients and staff in hospitals are receiving emergency food rations.
• WFP, working with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator and partners, has led the activation of the Logistics Cluster, a system by which the humanitarian community coordinates logistical support and humanitarian assistance. Since its activation, 360 pallets of relief items have been coordinated and delivered to Gaza, including bread, rice, water and hygiene kits.
• WFP and UNRWA launched large-scale bread distribution, buying bread in Gaza as well as in Jerusalem and the West Bank and transporting it to Gaza. This has relieved the pressure on Gaza bakeries, which last week saw a three-fold increase in customers – and four-hour waiting times -- following electricity cuts that left people unable to bake bread at home.
• In addition to providing emergency food assistance during the current 72-hour ceasefire, WFP has re-started regular food distributions in Gaza, planning to reach the 285,000 people registered with WFP’s original assistance programme prior to the conflict.
• WFP’s regular voucher programme, targeting 60,000 people, remained operational throughout the crisis. The voucher redemption rate in the second week of August stood at 75 percent.
• WFP needs an immediate US$48 million to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to people affected by the conflict in Gaza. In addition, WFP needs US$20 million to continue its regular programmes in Gaza and the West Bank until the end of the year.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food in emergencies and working with communities to build resilience. In 2013, WFP assisted more than 80 million people in 75 countries.
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