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Hope on the Horizon: Increase in Food Assistance for Iraq

Food Assistance in IraqAn increase in food assistance for Iraq will become a reality thanks to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) in Iraq will receive an additional $20 million in emergency food assistance per an announcement from Stuart E. Jones, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, made on Feb. 29, 2016, according to USAID.

With this new support, provided through USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP), the U.S. government has contributed nearly $623.8 million to support humanitarian activities in Iraq since the 2014 fiscal year, according to USAID’s Iraq-Complex Emergency Fact Sheet.

The new funding will support the distribution of household food parcels, including beans, dry peas, flour, oil and rice — and immediate response rations for vulnerable populations comprising ready-to-eat food items, such as beans, biscuits, canned meat, canned peas and dates according to USAID’s Iraq-Complex Emergency Fact Sheet.

USAID is helping the WFP reach 1.5 million displaced and conflict-affected Iraqis throughout the country according to USAID’s Feb. 29, 2016 press release.

This significant boost in aid has the potential to help Iraqis who were adversely impacted by cuts to the WFP last year. In August 2015, the WFP was forced to cut back food assistance due to a funding shortfall, according to the U.N.

“Unfortunately, lack of funds and the rise in the number of displaced Iraqis forces us to reduce the size of the food rations we provide to tens of thousands of families living outside camps,” said Jane Pearce, WFP representative and country director in Iraq, in an August 2015 press release.

This recent increase in food assistance for Iraq comes at a crucial time. The food and medicine shortage in Iraq resulted in the death of approximately 20 children and older persons in recent weeks according to a report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Between December 2015 and January 2016, the price of some food commodities in Fallujah increased by more than 800 percent, according to the WFP; as of late February, a 110-pound bag of rice cost $400 and a 110-pound sack of wheat flour was priced at $550, reported the IOM.

There is hope that this increase in food assistance for Iraq is a sign of more good to come for internally displaced persons living in the country.

Summer Jackson

Sources: UN, USAID 1, USAID 2
Photo: Wikipedia