WFP Scales Up Emergency Distributions Under Operation Lifeline Gaza

Published on 22 January 2009

Copyright: UNICEF/Iyad al Baba

As part of its Operation Lifeline Gaza, WFP has begun distributing nutritious date bars and high energy biscuits (HEBs) to thousands of displaced people in Gaza City.

GAZA CITY - WFP today began emergency distributions of nutritious date bars and high energy biscuits (HEB) to thousands of displaced people in Gaza City, as part of its Operation Lifeline Gaza to ensure that the food needs of the entire non-refugee population are met, following three weeks of heavy fighting.

“We are going to ensure that those who have been without access to food receive a nutritious boost as we begin to rebuild food security,” said WFP’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Ramiro Lopes da Silva. “We will be providing date bars, HEB and other ready-to-eat food to a total of 200,000 people.”

A first batch of 420 metric tons of date bars, which are fortified with vitamin A, are being produced by Egyptian suppliers to provide the basis of one-month emergency distributions, which will also include ready-to-eat meals (MREs) for hospitals and milk for children. Today’s distributions are being carried out by WFP’s cooperating partner, CHF, a US-based NGO.

At the same time, WFP is scaling up its regular distributions of wheat flour, vegetable oil, chick peas and sugar and aims to reach a total of 365,000 people under Operation Lifeline Gaza. Date bars will now be added to the regular rations. So far, more than 175,000 people have received a two-month ration since the Gaza crisis erupted on 27 December.

Throughout the fighting, WFP continued to deliver food into Gaza and carry out distributions to beneficiaries in Gaza City, Deir al-Balah and Khan Younis, through CHF and its other cooperating partner, the Ministry of Social Affairs. In addition, WFP supplied wheat flour to bakeries and provided bread to some 40,000 people.

WFP now has food stocks totalling 4,125 metric tons in Gaza warehouses. While this is sufficient for the next few weeks, far greater quantities are needed to cover the increased needs of the months ahead. From next week, WFP plans to move 600 metric tons of food every day into Gaza.

For this to happen, however, all crossing points into Gaza will need to be reopened. To date, WFP shipments have only been crossing through Kerem Shalom, at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip, including shipments from Egypt.