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WFP Scales Up Food Assistance In Ukraine To People Displaced And Trapped By Fighting

WFP Scales Up Food Assistance In Ukraine To People Displaced And Trapped By Fighting
KIEV – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up its emergency operation in eastern Ukraine to feed close to 190,000 vulnerable people displaced by the conflict and civilians trapped near the frontlines.

WFP has also stocked food supplies near the conflict areas in anticipation of further waves of displacement and for distribution to people affected by the violence.

“The humanitarian situation has deteriorated over the last few months in Donetsk and Luhansk with people fleeing their homes and taking refuge with extended families, in shelters, rented apartments and even in railway carriages,” said Carlo Scaramella, WFP Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“In areas where the fighting is still raging, the situation is even more precarious with civilians without access to functioning markets or food supplies,” he said.

Over the next few months, WFP will increase its assistance, including a one-off distribution of locally-procured food to over 110,000 people to meet their urgent food needs in largely besieged areas where access is limited and food supplies have dwindled.

The food rations include staples such as rice, vegetable oil, pasta, wheat flour, and canned food. In relatively stable areas with functioning markets and an influx of displaced families, WFP will distribute three rounds of food vouchers for nearly 80,000 of the most vulnerable people, particularly the elderly and female-headed households.

WFP uses food vouchers when food is available in markets but people cannot afford to buy it. Vouchers also inject money into the local economies of the host community – usually overburdened by hosting displaced people from other areas.

It is estimated that over 1 million people have been displaced in Ukraine since the start of the crisis. Many of them have exhausted their life savings and have no access to jobs.

Food prices have also risen dramatically in the eastern parts of the country. A recent survey found that prices in the area have gone up by 30 percent for items such as bread and milk and by 75-80 percent for meat and cheese, compared to the same period last year.

A WFP team in Sloviansk has met newly displaced families from areas near Debaltseve and Horlivka. These families managed to escape the violence, but say that many civilians remain stranded. A 90-year-old woman, evacuated at night by her neighbours following heavy fighting in her village near Debaltseve, is now taking refuge in a railroad car in Sloviansk’s main railway station.
“I was taken from my home and I am here alone and I don’t know where I am,” she said.  “I have children in Debaltseve and many family members. I am so worried about them.”  WFP is prioritizing food assistance to displaced elderly people and host communities caring for them.

WFP began its operations in Ukraine in August 2014 and has reached over 50,000 people with food vouchers and food parcel distributions at a cost of US$21.5 million. WFP needs an immediate US$9 million to continue to provide assistance until June.

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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. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 75 countries.

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For more information please contact (email address:
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Kiev, Mob. +2 010 6663 4352
Ryan McDonagh, WFP/Kiev, +380 (96) 469 0450
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 2321, Mob. +393467600521
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel.  +44 20 72409001, Mob.  +44 7968 008474
Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. +41 79 473 4570