DAMASCUS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will start providing ready-to-eat food to 125,000 vulnerable Palestinians and displaced Syrians caught up in fighting around Yarmouk camp in Damascus.
The densely populated camp, which is eight kilometers from the centre of Damascus, has been home to the largest Palestinian refugee community in Syria since 1957 and has recently housed thousands of displaced Syrians who fled heavy fighting in Damascus and the surrounding areas.
In recent days, Palestinian refugees and thousands of displaced Syrians who had taken refuge in the camp fled, due to violence in Yarmouk. Many of them are now in relatives’ homes, mosques, public shelters and schools. They left the camp carrying only their children, with thousands attempting to cross the border to neighbouring Lebanon.
“These people have already suffered tremendously in their journey in search of safety for their families and young children, moving from one place to the other hungry, terrified and cold,” said Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme. “We remain committed to supporting the most vulnerable in Syria. No one should go hungry.”
WFP will provide around 12 kilograms of food for each family per week, consisting of ready-to-eat food commodities, including canned goods. The UN food agency provides ready-to-eat food when beneficiaries don’t have access to cooking gas or kitchen facilities.
This emergency operation will require an additional US$1.5 million to immediately procure more than 580 metric tons of food -- enough to feed the 125,000 people for three months.
WFP provides food assistance to an average of 1.5 million people each month in all 14 governorates in Syria, prioritizing internally displaced people who have fled from ‘hotspot’ areas that have seen heavy fighting. The agency needs around US$134 million to continue to feed this number inside Syria until June 2013.
In Yarmouk, WFP is coordinating with the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which has the mandate to assist Palestinian refugees on behalf of the international community. Throughout Syria, WFP also coordinates with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and other local partners, as well as with sister UN agencies such as the UN children’s agency UNICEF, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
As refugees continue to cross the borders to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and travel as far as Egypt, WFP has extended its regional emergency operation to provide food assistance to up to 755,000 people by June 2013. The total cost of WFP’s refugee operation is around US$200 million, of which US$135 million is as yet unfunded.
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Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +202 2528 1730 ext. 2600 Mob. +2 010 666 34352
Laure Chadraoui, WFP/Beirut-Amman, Mob. + 962795917987 and +9613489925
Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 3854, Mob. +39 347 9450634
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
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44 20 72409001, Mob. +44 7968 008474
Rene McGuffin, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1 202 4223383
Reem Nada, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +202 2528 1730 ext. 2610, Mob. +2 010 666 34522