DAMASCUS – In March, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) began distributing school meals for the first time to Syrian children attending public primary schools in areas in Aleppo city previously inaccessible to WFP and other humanitarian organizations.
The meals include a carton of milk fortified with vitamins and minerals and a locally-baked date bar, which provide schoolchildren with the nutrition they need to concentrate and learn in class. Through its local partner, WFP has so far distributed school meals to about 15,000 children at 30 schools in Aleppo since the programme began on 5 March.
The Syrian crisis, soon entering its seventh year, has derailed the educational system in Syria, leaving an estimated 1.75 million children and young people out of school. School meals are a critical component to help bring children back to school in Syria, and ensure every child has access to education, health and nutrition.
“This is a turning point for children in Aleppo, many of whom haven’t attended school for years because it was simply too dangerous to go outside due to constant fighting,” said WFP Syria Country Director and Representative Jakob Kern. “Now that relative stability has returned to Aleppo, these daily nutritious meals encourage parents to send their children – especially girls – to school and to keep them there.”
WFP has also begun to provide fresh school meals each school day to more than 2,000 children in two schools in Aleppo city. This new programme provides each student with a fresh meal, consisting of a sandwich and piece of fruit or vegetable. The programme employs 20 Syrian women in Aleppo who prepare the meals, which are then distributed by a WFP local partner.
In 2014, WFP launched its school meals programme in Syria by providing meals in Tartous, Rural Damascus and Aleppo governorates. By the end of the 2016 academic year, WFP had expanded school meals and reached nearly half a million children across 10 governorates. Until recently, access constraints had prevented the expansion of the programme into some areas.
In 2017, WFP plans to scale up its school meals programme to reach up to 750,000 children across Syria. This is in addition to a programme that plans to provide 50,000 out-of-school children with vouchers.
Since January, WFP has provided food assistance to tens of thousands of displaced Syrians returning home to formerly conflict-affected areas in Aleppo city. In addition to distributing ready-to-eat rations with staple food items such as canned chickpeas, meat and tuna, vegetables, olive oil, and thyme, WFP is delivering bulk food to public kitchens that distribute hot meals to families in Aleppo each day.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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To access WFP in Syria in 2016 - Year in Review report click here:
For more information please contact:
Marwa Awad, WFP/Damascus, Mob. +963 958 882 900
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +2010 66634352
Dina El-Kassaby, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +2010 15218882
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 65132321, Mob. +39 346 7600521
Bettina Luescher, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. + 41-79-842-8057
Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington DC, Tel. +1 202 653 1149, Mob. +1 202 770 5993