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WFP Reaches Besieged Town In Northern Syria With Food Assistance

AMMAN – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has reached the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, in northern Ar-Raqqa governorate, for the first time in eight months, delivering desperately needed food assistance to 10,000 people.

Ar-Raqqa governorate has been under the control of ISIS, making it nearly impossible for WFP to safely deliver food to communities since last year. In mid-June, Tal Abyad became accessible again after the town changed hands in fierce fighting. WFP immediately resumed operations to bring in food.

“Access to Tal Abyad was only possible after weeks of negotiations,” said WFP Country Director in Syria, Matthew Hollingworth. “We are terribly concerned about the deprivation and suffering of people in Ar-Raqqa where needs are high.”

A convoy carrying 2,000 family food rations arrived in Tal Abyad on 2 July and distributions started immediately. The food rations include wheat flour, canned food, rice, lentils, bulgur wheat, cooking oil, salt and sugar. The last time WFP delivered food to Tal Abyad was in November 2014.

“Families in Tal Abyad have been cut off from humanitarian assistance for months and are suffering from severe shortages of basic supplies, including food,” Hollingworth added. “Agricultural activities in the area have come to a halt and the borders with Turkey are sealed shut, so food prices in the few shops that are open in the city are extremely high and out of reach for families in need.”

The UN estimates that over 300,000 people currently live in besieged areas across Syria. WFP appeals to all parties to the conflict to allow immediate, unimpeded safe access to families in need of urgent food assistance in these areas regardless of political affiliation or location. Overall, more than 12 million people in Syria today are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.

Critical funding shortages are limiting WFP’s ability to provide adequate support to displaced families living in conflict across Syria. The size of the ration has been slightly reduced because of funding and assistance to Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries has been subject to cuts. WFP urgently requires US$54 million to continue to provide food assistance to communities inside Syria through September.

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

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For more information please contact:
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +2010 66634352
Dina El-Kassaby, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +2010 15218882
Joelle Eid, WFP/Amman, Mob. +962 79727 9403