Damascus, 18 June 2007 - WFP today thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 720 metric tons of dates donated to support WFP's beneficiaries in Syria.
The dates for Syria are part of the 4,000 metric tons of dates that the Kingdom annually donates to WFP's operations worldwide by a decree of the King and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
Including associated costs, the total value of the donation is over US$589,000. The dates will be distributed among the 12,000 small farmers and rural women living on degraded and marginalised lands in ten provinces as well as up to 30,000 impoverished Iraqi refugees currently living in Syria.
"We are very grateful to Saudi Arabia for its generous annual donations to WFP's projects in Syria," said Pippa Bradford, WFP's Representative in Syria.
The 29 trucks transporting the dates from Saudi Arabia crossed the Syrian border on 7 June 2007. The official delivery will take place at the Saudi Embassy in Damascus in the presence of Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to Syria, H.E. Mr. Ahmad Ben Ali Al-Qahtani and Pippa Bradford.
The contribution comes at a time when WFP is assisting growing numbers of people fleeing Iraq.
WFP is currently assisting up to 30,000 Iraqi refugees who are unable to afford their basic food needs.
Saudi Arabia has recently become one of the biggest donors to WFP's global activities.
In addition, it was the 15th largest donor overall to the UN food aid agency in 2006, giving a total of US$34 million to Cambodia, Horn of Africa, Indonesia, the occupied Palestinian territory, Lebanon, Pakistan and West Africa.
So far in 2007, the Kingdom contributed to WFP's operations in Mauritania and Guinea