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Syria Crisis Two Years On: Severe Funding Challenges To Feed Millions Of Syrians

DAMASCUS – Two years into the Syria crisis, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) faces severe challenges in expanding its emergency operation to feed millions of conflict-affected people, as a result of funding shortages.

“This is a global crisis that requires a global response so that we can meet the growing and urgent needs of Syrians,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. “We are grateful for the generous contributions that we have received so far from around 30 government donors including Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, United Kingdom, United States, but needs are escalating.”

She said the UN food agency’s plans to reach 2.5 million people inside Syria, and over a million refugees in neighboring countries, are threatened by the lack of resources. WFP needs an urgent US$156 million to continue its work to feed Syrians from now until June.

WFP started its emergency operation in Syria in August 2011 and has so far distributed more than 83,000 metric tons of food to millions of Syrians in over 400 different locations across the country, using 5,000 trucks and 55 ships.

In the neighboring countries, WFP teams in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt are mainly using food vouchers to feed vulnerable Syrian refugees. Food vouchers help boost the local economy in communities strained by the influx of people.

So far, WFP has distributed over one million food vouchers and half a million food parcels in the neighbouring countries. Over three million meals in three months were distributed to Syrian refugees in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

WFP is funded entirely by voluntary contributions. Delays in the arrival of funding mean that WFP will not be able to provide the increased food ration that it planned to deliver to Syrian families in March.  Earlier in the crisis, bread was widely available at a subsidized price and more local produce was in the markets, so the ration was smaller, but now Syrians are facing severe bread shortages across the country.

The current food basket includes rice, bulgur wheat, lentils, sugar, vegetable oil and salt. Lack of funds will force WFP into further reducing the food basket and the number of people receiving food aid inside the country as early as mid-April.

With the influx into neighbouring countries running at 8,000 people a day, WFP resources are further strained. Overall, WFP’s Syria emergency operation needs US$18 million every week.

“This is a critical time for Syrians. They have exhausted their savings and they need more help as this crisis goes into its third year, so now is not the time to reduce or stop our operations,” added Cousin. “We are determined to continue our life-saving assistance but we need ongoing support from generous donors -- and the support of new donors -- until a political solution is in place.”

Download broadcast quality video and shotlists:

Link1-WFP operations in Domiz Refugee Camp, northern Iraq
Shot: 12-13 March2013

Link2-WFP food distribution in opposition-controlled areas Al Shaddadi, Syria
Shot: 31 Jan2013


For more information please contact (email address:
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +202 2528 1730 ext. 2600 Mob. +2 010 666 34352
Laure Chadraoui, WFP/Beirut-Amman, Mob. + 962795917987 and +9613489925
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Tel. Tel. +39 06 65132321, Mob. +39 346 7600521
Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. +41 79 473 4570
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 5566909, Mob. +1 646 8241112
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel.  +44 20 72409001, Mob.  +44 7968 008474
Rene McGuffin, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1 202 4223383
Reem Nada, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +202 2528 1730 ext. 2610, Mob. +2 010 666 34522