DAMASCUS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed urgent food aid to vulnerable families in Al-Qusayr where some of the heaviest fighting in Syria has taken place in recent weeks. Meanwhile the United Nations today announced projected financial costs for the humanitarian operation totalling US$4.4 billion; this figure represents the escalating needs just for the balance of 2013. The WFP share of this appeal, US$1 billion, will provide food assistance for the growing refugee population outside Syria as well as the increasing numbers of those inside the country without access to food.
Today, WFP serves the food needs of over 800,000 people outside Syria and an additional 2.5 million inside the country. The WFP appeal addresses a monthly increase in beneficiaries, with a goal of reaching, by late 2013, a total of 7 million Syrians inside and outside in the neighbouring countries. The escalating violence and resulting humanitarian crisis make this WFP’s most challenging, complex and largest emergency worldwide.
“Syrian families, particularly children, whether inside the country or outside, are devastated by the magnitude of this crisis. Proud people have had their lives and livelihoods shattered by this conflict,” said Ertharin Cousin, WFP’s Executive Director. “Today, we are appealing to the international community to continue their generous support that allowed us to save millions of lives over the last few months.”
WFP sent family food rations – enough to feed 2,500 people – for distribution yesterday in Al-Qusayr through its partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and community leaders. More food aid is being moved to the area as humanitarian partners assess the immediate needs of families from Al-Qusayr. This week, WFP distributed food rations and ready-to-eat meals to some 5,000 people sheltering in schools, tents and with local families in the neighbouring towns of Hesieh and Debeh.
Under the revised plan, WFP will scale up its operations to meet the growing food needs inside Syria of three million people from July to September and further expand to reach four million people from October till the end of the year; 3.3 million of them are internally displaced. Wheat flour will be also a part of the ration, so families can bake bread to overcome severe shortages in many areas.
In addition, WFP will provide ready-to-eat supplementary feeding products in the form of nutrient spreads such as Nutributter and Plumpy’doz for the treatment and prevention of malnutrition, aimed at 300,000 vulnerable children.
In neighbouring countries, WFP will also ramp up its food aid to meet the urgent needs of 2.7 million refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq by the end of this year, mainly through food vouchers which are spent in local shops. This is four times the number of refugees that the agency is reaching now. The new plan also includes food assistance to local communities in host countries mainly in Jordan and Lebanon.
WFP is funded entirely by voluntary contributions. “The contributions that we have received so far from our government donors, including Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Kuwait, the United Kingdom, and the United States have allowed us to meet the growing and urgent needs of Syrians and inject close to US$70 million into the local economies of neighbouring countries who are also feeling the strain of this regional crisis,” added Cousin. “You are saving lives,” she appealed.
For an operation of this scale, WFP will seek to raise over US$26 million dollars every week until September to meet the food needs of people affected by the conflict.
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-Amman, Mob. + 962795917987 and +9613489925
Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41229178564, Mob. +41-79 4734570
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44 207 2409001, Mob. +44 796 8008474
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Tel. Tel. +39 06 65132321, Mob. +39 346 7600521
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 5566909, Mob. +1 646 8241112