8 March 2013 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today said it aims to feed 2.5 million people inside Syria by next month, up from 1.7 million in February, as the number of civilians displaced by the ongoing conflict continues to rise sharply.
“The increased fighting in Raqqah governorate in north-east Syria is leading into a fresh new wave of displacement with over 20,000 families fleeing their homes to Deir Ezzor governorate,” WFP spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs told journalists in Geneva.
The agency sent three trucks carrying food for more than 20,000 people over the past three days for distribution in public shelters in the governorate. Another five trucks are being sent today, Ms. Byrs noted.
The number of Syrian refugees reached the one million mark, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said yesterday, warning that humanitarian workers need additional funds to help the refugees and support the countries hosting them – Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, and increasingly to North Africa and Europe.
In Jordan, WFP is starting a school feeding project in Zaatari camp, hoping to boost school attendance by providing meals and snacks to children.
Meanwhile, in Turkey, WFP launched the e-Food Card Programme in Harran camp, whereby 36,000 Syrians can use electronic vouchers to buy fresh produce and cook their own meals.
Given the additional number of beneficiaries, WFP is expanding its operations at an additional cost of $526 million through December 2013. So far, $173 million, or 33 per cent, has been received.
Also speaking at the briefing, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the $521 million Syrian Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan was 21.5 per cent funded, which includes $200 million pledged at the January donor conference in Kuwait.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said its appeal for Syria was 22 per cent funded, having received $15 million of the $68.4 million requested.
“Projects in Jordan had the least funds available to them and without further assistance soon, projects such as those providing clean water and mass vaccinations would need to be scaled down,” said UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado.