WFP will launch a phased series of humanitarian operations to ensure that the Iraqi people will continue to receive their basic food needs over the coming weeks and months.
With possibly the entire population of Iraq requiring food aid, the full operation (see below for details) could cost over one billion US dollars.
The agency has already prepositioned sufficient supplies in neighbouring countries to feed two million people for one month.
These stocks will help cover the initial phase of the conflict when WFP faces the potential flow of Iraqi refugees into neighbouring countries.
In this estimated four week period of the operation, WFP estimates that about 2.1 million people may require emergency assistance. This stage will also include as many cross-border operations as possible to help people inside Iraq in dire need of food aid.
Within four to six weeks, WFP may be called upon to sustain the monthly food rationing system in Iraq.
After 12 years of economic sanctions, this distribution system offers a lifeline for the majority of Iraqi's; WFP might be called upon to assist the entire population of Iraq, about 27 million people.
It is hoped that after four months providing assistance for the entire population, Iraq would be able to launch its own food rationing system and WFP could scale down its operation.
At that stage, WFP could focus on a potential five million refugees sheltering outside Iraq as well as displaced and vulnerable populations inside the country.
Some 800 national WFP staff members will continue to work inside Iraq as long as security conditions permit and food supplies last.
In the centre and south of Iraq, where the Iraqi Government is responsible for the Oil-for-Food Programme, warehouses are almost empty.
WFP believes that most people have enough food to sustain them for a maximum of six weeks.
This is a summary of what was said by WFP spokesperson Khaled Mansour - to whom quoted text may be attributed - at the press briefing, on 20 March 2003, in Amman, Jordan
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WFP Planning for Iraq Crisis
The humanitarian operation for Iraq is a logistics nightmare filled with unknowns and uncertainties.
These include: the war's duration, the intensity of military operations and the state of silos, mills and roads.
WFP has made extensive plans for the crisis.
With staff members already in place, contracts with trucking companies drafted and communication equipment installed, a very complex transport network is ready to spring into action at a moment's notice.