KARBALA, IRAQ – Food aid convoys from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have reached displaced Iraqis in Karbala, southwest of Baghdad, bringing the number of people receiving food assistance to over 700,000 people since the start of violence in mid-June.
This week 2,000 displaced families in Karbala received food assistance after WFP sent convoys from Erbil in the northern Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) area – using a corridor along the Iranian border to avoid volatile security in the area. More convoys will depart daily from Erbil to Karbala until all 15,000 families registered there have received assistance.
“The humanitarian situation in Iraq is extremely challenging,” said Mohamed Diab, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and East Europe. “Thanks to the generous contribution from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, WFP has been prepared to provide food to communities that need it most and are in a very difficult and complex security situation.”
Throughout the country more than 1 million people have been displaced – many without access to food, water or other basic needs. They are living in unfinished buildings, mosques, churches, parks and schools.
“Our team met an Iraqi woman who arrived in Karbala from Mosul in July with her five children and three grandchildren. She said that until she got her food parcels from WFP this week, she had been living hand-to-mouth through random meal donations from citizens,” said Jane Pearce, Country Director for WFP in Iraq.
WFP’s primary food assistance in Karbala, and in most governorates across Iraq, consists of food parcels containing essential items such as rice and cooking oil. Each parcel feeds a family of five for one month. WFP also distributes emergency ready-to-eat rations such as canned food, which provide immediate relief – especially to people still on the move. A third type of assistance is through emergency kitchens providing hot meals to people who fled persecution in Sinjar in the northern Nineveh governorate.
“We have different methods to assist people in Iraq. Some people have settled in areas where they have access to cooking facilities, others need immediate relief after days on the road and in the heat. The tailored assistance ensures we can meet people’s urgent nutritional needs,” said Pearce.
WFP’s operations in Iraq have been significantly scaled up in recent weeks, thanks to a US$148.9 million contribution in July from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that has helped the agency to respond quickly to the humanitarian crisis in the country.
Before the latest wave of displacement, WFP was already assisting about 240,000 people displaced by conflict in Iraq’s al-Anbar governorate, as well as more than 180,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria who are sheltering in Iraq.
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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. Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media and @wfp_mena
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