WFP Iraq press briefing - Amman 24 Mar 2003

News and Press Release
Originally published
A convoy of 19 trucks packed with food aid has rolled into the northern Iraqi town of Erbil, five days after crossing the border.

The food - 380 metric tons of vegetable oil - has been offloaded at a warehouse ready for distribution in the northern provinces.

The food will be distributed as part of the Nutrition Programme by which WFP uses UN Oil-for-Food funds to supplement general food rations in the three northern governorates of Dahuk, Sulaymaniyah and Erbil.

The Programme targets some 634,000 vulnerable women children and elderly persons.

Food handlers are still operating in Erbil, although WFP's local staff report that the situation remains tense. The estimated 2,194 people, who had fled Erbil to outlying towns and villages in the north, are returning home.

Two other food aid trucks have broken down at Mosul.


To date, WFP has not received any reports about massive movements of population in the South and Central provinces.

The agency is currently building a more accurate picture of the IDP situation in North Iraq.

Local authorities have reported that some 512 IDPs, who fled Mosul and Kirkuk - both cities controlled by the Iraqi government - are currently staying in schools in Soran District, together with a further 3,359 who escaped from Erbil City itself.

Only IDPs from Kirkuk, part of Centre/South of Iraq, are being registered at Soran. Local authorities are encouraging these people, a total of 60 families, to move to temporary camps for shelter.

With no food aid currently reaching Erbil Governorate, WFP will draw on its remaining stocks to allow distribution in Soran District to help families, who are hosting relatives fleeing from other areas/governorates.

Humanitarian corridors: Um Qasr

WFP's logistics contingency plan aims to use humanitarian corridors through Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Kuwait to get food aid into Iraq.

The southern port of Um Qasr would provide an additional passage if it becomes operational. However, this would depend upon the level of trucking capacity inside Iraq and the availability of skilled staff to handle arriving ships.

Prior to the war, some 60 percent of humanitarian aid for the UN Oil-for-Food Programme passed through Um Qasr.

Contact Information

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 24 March 2003, in Amman, Jordan

For more information: tel: +962-6-566 8171