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WFP Distributes Food Vouchers In Donetsk As Emergency Operation Gets Underway in Ukraine

KIEV – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed food vouchers to 10,000 internally displaced people in northern Donetsk as part of an emergency operation to feed 120,000 people over the next six months.

The families, mainly displaced because of the ongoing fighting in the region, can redeem the one-off vouchers worth US$45 from local shops in the area. This initial round of food voucher distribution has injected close to half a million dollars into the economy of local host communities.

So far, the Government of Ukraine’s State Emergency Services has registered more than 450,000 displaced people, while it is estimated that more families are displaced but have not yet registered. The majority of vulnerable people are staying in collective shelters or with other families – many of them left their homes quickly with limited or no resources and are unable to access their bank accounts or entitlements. This leaves them struggling to meet basic needs – especially food.

Throughout the eastern region affected by the conflict, access to food continues to be a priority concern. With high unemployment, lack of available hard currency, growing inflation and increased food prices, it is becoming increasingly difficult for families to keep sufficient, nutritious food on the table. With the winter period, the situation is expected to worsen.

“WFP uses food vouchers when food is still available in the markets but is out of reach for the most vulnerable displaced and poor families,” said Martin Ohlsen, WFP head of office in Ukraine. “Vouchers also give the displaced families the choice and flexibility to purchase what they need, especially fresh items such as fruits, vegetables, meat and cheese.”

Since early September WFP has reached more than 30,000 vulnerable individuals in eastern Ukraine. This includes distributions of mostly ready-to-eat food parcels.

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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. In 2013, WFP assisted more than 80 million people in 75 countries.

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For more information please contact:

Martin Ohlsen, WFP/Kiev, Tel. +380 44 253 18 60, Mob. +380 97 356 50 33

Ryan Mcdonagh, WFP/Kiev, Mob. + 380 96 469 0450

Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +2010 66634352

Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. +41 79 473 4570