DAMASCUS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up its food aid operations inside Syria to reach 2.5 million people in the coming months. In February, WFP is increasing the number of people it plans to reach from 1.5 million to 1.75 million people and is gradually building its capacity to reach two million people in March and 2.5 million vulnerable Syrians by April.
• The food basket will include eight commodities – rice, bulgur, pasta, vegetable oil, lentils, salt, sugar and canned pulses – which will be complemented by bread or wheat flour, providing a total of 1,700 kilocalories.
• To address the severe shortage of bread and fuel in the country, the Government of Syria has approved WFP’s request to import fuel and wheat flour for humanitarian purposes. WFP will import up to 2.5 million litres of fuel per month to transport humanitarian supplies to needy families. The first consignment (almost 39,000 litres) arrived in Syria from Lebanon in January.
• In Syria, WFP reaches opposition- and government-controlled areas. Controls of these areas changes constantly, but on average 40 to 45 percent of the areas that the UN food agency has been reaching are opposition-controlled.
• Over the last few months, WFP and its partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) have been able to reach displaced and besieged people with food in hotspot areas such as: Talbissa, Al-Rastan, and Al Houleh in Homs; Al-Shaddadi and Ras el Ain in Al-Hassakeh; Tal Abyad in Al-Raqqa; Al-Nabek, Yabroud, Douma in Rural Damascus; Ma'arat Ano'man, Jesr el Shoughour, and Teftanaz in Idleb; Al-Treymseh, and Halfaya in Hama; Al-Bab and Azaz in Aleppo; and Deir Ezzor and Abu Kamal in Deir Ezzor.
• WFP staff coordinates with SARC volunteers to take advantage of brief lulls in fighting to send food to trapped civilians. Some areas, however, like the old city in Homs and some parts of North Aleppo close to the Turkish border, remain unreachable due to heavy fighting and road insecurity.
• WFP has been reaching up to 1.5 million people inside Syria with emergency food assistance since September 2012, dispatching an average of 400 food trucks each month to the 14 Governorates. WFP staff and SARC volunteers coordinate food convoys with all parties on the ground, including community leaders, to ensure the safe passage of food across the conflict lines and its distribution to vulnerable families.
• Dispatching food inside Syria has been increasingly challenging in recent months, with growing insecurity, and truck drivers are at times reluctant to drive on some roads and to deliver food assistance to certain risky areas.
• WFP prioritizes food assistance to internally displaced Syrians, who make up 85 percent of the caseload. Many were besieged in their homes for weeks before they were able to flee and are now living with host families, renting apartments or taking refuge in public shelters.
• Outside Syria, more than 700,000 refugees have registered with UNHCR in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, or are awaiting registration. Needs assessments show that food is a top priority. WFP recently expanded its operation and plans to provide food assistance to up to 755,000 refugees between January and June 2013, under the humanitarian community’s revised Regional Refugee Response Plan.
• As the UN’s lead logistics agency, WFP also provides handling services and transportation for goods other than food. So far, it helped transport hundreds of metric tons of blankets, medical supplies and other non-food items including clothing and cooking utensils on behalf of WHO, UNICEF, UNRWA, and UNFPA.
• New video footage from inside Syria (in both opposition and government-controlled areas) is available at the following link, with shot-list included: https://www.yousendit.com/download/UW16bUpZQTZsUjk3czhUQw
• A link to 25 high-resolution photos from Syria, with captions and copyright is here http://www.yousendit.com/download/UW16bUpXRStHa01pR01UQw
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries.
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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. +20 0166634352
Laure Chadraoui, WFP/Beirut, Mob. +961 3 489925 (Lebanon) or +962 795917987 (Jordan)
Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome, +39 0665133854, Mob. +39 347 9450634
Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41229178564, Mob. +41-79 4734570
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44 207 2409001, Mob. +44 796 8008474
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 556 6906, Mob. +1 646 8241112