AMMAN – As the number of Syrian refugees reaches the two million mark, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) appealed today for humanitarian access inside Syria to avoid a situation in which hunger becomes an additional factor pushing more people to flee the country. In August, the UN food agency was only able to dispatch food for 2.4 million people -- short of its goal of feeding three million people a month -- as a result of the deteriorating security situation.
• Many areas in Syria are becoming inaccessible with the upsurge in violence and the proliferation of checkpoints around major cities affecting the pace of food dispatches. Areas in the governorates of Al Hassakeh, Al Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, Aleppo, Idleb and Rural Damascus are becoming more challenging to reach because of growing insecurities and road closures.
• WFP airlifted 1,000 family food rations on two separate flights during the month of August from its warehouses in Damascus to Qamishly in northeast Syria to overcome the challenges of growing insecurity and road closures.
• WFP aims to feed three million people inside Syria every month and plans to further scale up its operations to reach four million during the month of October. Recent crop and food security assessments found that some four million people are unable to produce or buy enough food. Syria’s food security situation has significantly deteriorated over the past year and agricultural production will further decline over the next 12 months if the present conflict continues. Year-on-year inflation rose by 50 percent from 2011 with the highest food prices, of 300 percent or more, reported in Al Hassakeh, Hama and Aleppo.
• With serious bread shortages across the country, in April WFP started distributing wheat flour as well as regular monthly rations. Since then, WFP has dispatched 23,400 metric tons of wheat flour across Syria – benefiting nearly 1.2 million people on average each month. The flour was distributed mainly to families in rural areas to bake bread at home. The UN food agency is now preparing to deliver wheat flour to functioning bakeries in some urban locations.
• In Syria, WFP prioritizes assistance to internally displaced families and the most vulnerable Syrians. WFP works with its partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and 22 community based-organisations and charities.
• Two million Syrians refugees have registered or are awaiting registration with UNHCR in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. WFP teams are mainly using food vouchers to respond to the needs of vulnerable Syrians in these countries. WFP uses vouchers, which can be redeemed against a list of groceries, when food is available in the market but people do not have the money to buy it.
• Food vouchers boost local economies that are hosting refugees. Since the beginning of 2013, through the voucher programme, WFP has injected over US$150 million into the local economies of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt.
• The Syria response is WFP’s largest and most complex emergency worldwide. WFP needs to raise US$30 million every week to meet the food needs of people affected by the Syrian conflict.
For broadcast quality video of WFP operations inside Syria and in neighbouring countries please contact Jonathan.Dumont@wfp.org
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance.
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For more information please contact (email address: email@example.com):
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +202 2528 1730 ext. 2600 Mob. +2 010 666 34352
Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 3854, Mob. +39 347 9450634
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44 20 72409001, Mob. +44 7968 008474
Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. +41 79 473 4570
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-5566909, Mob. +1-646-8241112
Reem Nada, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +202 2528 1730 ext. 2610, Mob. +2 010 666 34522