Crayons. Paper. Paint. Welcome to art class, where kids around the globe dive into their imaginations to create their own worlds. This art class, however, is inside Kilis Refugee Camp in Turkey. Its students: young refugees who were forced to flee their homes in Syria because of conflict and violence. As they put crayon to paper, out pours memories – of home, of the conflict, of their frightening journey to the refugee camp where they are now safe. It’s troubling to see the very real images of Kalashnikovs and other guns and tanks they pull from their imaginations. The home they remember is part refuge, part war zone; and it’s clear just how much these kids have been through.
Millions of people have fled their homes due to conflict in Syria, seeking refuge in public shelters, friend’s apartments further from the violence, or neighbouring countries. The conflict has severely decreased domestic food production; just 5 percent of farmers were able to harvest their winter crops. Food prices have also soared. Most essential items cost 200 percent more than they did before the conflict. A loaf of bread, for example, cost US$0.63 before the conflict began. Now, it costs over US$3.50. The result is a humanitarian crisis where hunger is a top global priority – and the need to get food to the hungry is urgent.
WFP On The Ground
Since September, WFP has reached 1.5 million people inside Syria each month with lifesaving food assistance. Over the next few months, we’ll be working with local community groups and non-governmental organisations on the ground to gradually increase our reach to 2.5 million people. Families receive a nutritious WFP food basket with rice, bulgur, pasta, vegetable oil, lentils, salt, sugar and canned pulses – a vegetable-based porridge – accompanied by bread or wheat flour.
Reaching the vulnerable amidst ongoing conflict is no easy task. That’s why we’re working with local partners to increase our reach and get food to trapped civilians during brief lulls in fighting. We also rely on the support of donors around the world to get food to those in need as quickly, safely, and effectively as possible. It’s a challenge. But when there are hungry people in need, WFP is there.
We’re also helping hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who fled to safety in the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, refugees like those student artists living at Kilis Refugee Camp with their parents. At another refugee camp, Zaatari Camp in Jordan, some 75 percent of refugees are women and children. Effective and lifesaving food assistance is about more than just delivering food. It’s about using the right food assistance tool at the right time so that families get the unique nutrition they need. That’s why we’re innovating and using e-vouchers for refugee families living far from home. They can take these vouchers to local stores to buy fresh food of their choice for their families. This means a nutritious, home-cooked meal for these refugees who’ve been through so much -- and food assistance that powers the local economy in the host countries.
Together, we can be a lifeline for Syrians affected by the conflict. Many of them are students like you who still dream of – and deserve – a bright and healthy future. It costs just US$18 for WFP to feed a Syrian family for a week. We can be the difference of nutritious food far from home, and amidst extraordinary circumstances. We can’t imagine what these kids have been through or how good WFP food tastes when they arrive to safety. But we can imagine the impact we make together when we rise to the challenge.
Join us. You can learn more about the crisis in Syria and our operations on the ground on our multi-media homepage.