WFP providing assistance to more than 300,000 Syrian families amid security challenges

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syrian refugee camps
Located in a windswept desert, the new Za’atri camp in northern Jordan can eventually host up to 113,000 refugees. Photo – A. McDonnell/UNHCR

World Food Program (WFP) said it is distributing food assistance to more than 300,000 affected Syrian families each month amid some security and funding challenges.

“We started with a small project in Syria about 18 to 19 months ago and now on monthly bases the World Food Program in Syria provides food assistance to … approximately 300,000 families,” Muhannad Hadi, country director of WFP branch in Syria, said in a recent interview with Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

Hadi said WFP activities in Syria are facing direct challenges due to the security situation as fighting between the military and rebels escalate in several cities and towns across the country. The UN food program is operating in Syria’s 14 governates.

“There are certain areas within the governorates that we can’t reach. There are areas for example in Homs that we haven’t reached for more than eight or nine months; other areas also in Daraa,” Hadi said while adding that his group is trying… to go and meet the needs in those areas… we are trying to improve our working mechanism and hopefully with the improvement in the security situation we can also reach those areas.”

The WFP’s activities in Syria are also facing financial difficulty, Hadi said, adding that their activities’ needs are valued at 136 million U.S. dollars, but only 90 million or less have been secured.

“We still lack a lot of money,” he said, adding that the financial shortage has forced them sometimes to reduce the content of the food basket.

Hadi said the WFP’s humanitarian work is carried out with the cooperation of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), which has thousands of volunteers across Syria.

The WFP’s Syria coordinator said he is considering to boost its food basket, which consists of basic commodities including cereals, oil, sugar, salt, dried and canned pasta.

Aid groups working in war-torn Syria on Tuesday doubled their estimates and suggested at least 2.5 million Syrians have fled their homes because of the infighting.

The figure were released by Syrian Arab Red Crescent, whose volunteers are braving death and harsh weather on the front lines to deliver aid supplies to refugees and evacuate wounded people.

UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming said humanitarian operations were halted for at least two days last week in Damascus due to heavy fighting.

The UN aid agency distributes emergency packages that contain non-food humanitarian supplies ranging from blankets and clothing to cooking kits and jerry cans.

According to the agency’s statistics, at least 2.5 million people are internally-displaced in Syria while another 400,000 people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

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