WFP starts first food distribution to thousands of Lebanese in Syria

Published on 08 February 2006

WFP yesterday started distributing food aid to nearly 7,000 Lebanese civilians in the Syrian capital, Damascus, who fled crisis-torn Lebanon over the last two weeks.

WFP yesterday started distributing food aid to nearly 7,000 Lebanese civilians in the Syrian capital, Damascus, who fled crisis-torn Lebanon over the last two weeks.

These people who have fled Lebanon have been through a harrowing experience.

Pippa Bradford, WFP’s Representative in Syria

WFP will distribute three tons of bread everyday to the beneficiaries who are currently living in public buildings such as schools and abandoned buildings.

Current projections indicate that the number of refugees needing food aid in Damascus could rise to 20,000 people in the coming days.

WFP is therefore increasing its contingency planning to take account of up to 11 metric tons of food per day. On Wednesday, WFP will also start distributing food in central and northern Syria.

Fled with nothing

“These people who have fled Lebanon have been through a harrowing experience. Some came to Syria with nothing but the clothes on their backs and are in need of a tremendous amount of support,” said Pippa Bradford, WFP’s Representative in Syria.

“WFP will ensure that all in need of food over the coming days will receive a basic ration that will include fresh bread.”

Appeal

The United Nations recently launched a US$149 million appeal for humanitarian aid to help 450,000 people affected by the crisis in Lebanon.

The appeal covers an initial three-month response for priority needs, including food, healthcare, logistics, water and sanitation, protection and common services.

As part of the appeal, WFP is giving priority to distributing assistance to those most in need, including 95,000 displaced people seeking shelter in schools and public institutions in Beirut, 165,000 people in the heaviest-hit areas in southern Lebanon and 50,000 of the approximately 140,000 people in Syria who have fled the conflict.

Crossing points

The border crossing at the town of Arida, on the Syrian side of the north Lebanese border, is one of the few safe-crossing points remaining open to traffic between the two countries.

Over the past few days, tens of thousands of refugees have been flooding across the border point to escape the fighting.

On Saturday, WFP inaugurated the first land crossing point here for regular humanitarian shipments into Lebanon, where an estimated one-fifth of the population has been displaced by continuing bombardments since hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah fighters erupted.

WFP currently requires US$8.9 million to help feed the current caseload of Lebanese civilians in Syria as well as the number of people expected to seek shelter in the capital over the coming days. So far, WFP has received donations from Saudi Arabia (US$2 million) and Luxembourg (US$314,000).