A day has not gone by this past year where Syria has not been mentioned in the news. Entering its 23rd month of conflict, the political status of Syria and the opposition against President Bashar al-Assad has not even come close to the light at the end of the tunnel. Caught in between, or in actuality forced aside, has been the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing across the Syrian borders to neighboring countries such as Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt.
In times when survival is the most eminent goal, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has teamed up with 44 ‘local’ NGOs to amp its food service program to an additional 1 million people, totaling around 2.5 million.
Although not directly named, for reasons unknown, these local agencies are a blessing to the WFP. “What we did not have in the past was permission from the Government to formally develop relationships with additional NGO partners” states Executive Director of the WFP Ertharin Cousin. The Syrian government provided her with a list of 110 governmental organizations that would be able to provide assistance to the UN in terms of distribution and product.
The largest obstacle as many have seen or read about is that food and fiscal aid has not made its way to many of the refugees, especially to those who have remained in and around the areas that experience the most fighting. The WFP reports that many of its food trucks and medical supply shipments have been attacked, thus preventing much needed aid from reaching refugees.
Not much is known about the 44 new NGOs the WFP will be working with. However, both parties should be applauded for increasing their efforts in creating ties that are closer to the nation they are serving. When working in the Middle East, many Western humanitarian organizations may disregard the necessity of obtaining cultural ties to the society they hope to serve. This is important not just in the case of a Middle Eastern country but in any country. While a helping hand is the most basic form of connecting with another human being, in certain societies, people are more willing to accept aid from someone they share a pre-established bond with. Creating such a relationship will not only facilitate current efforts but form a cooperative effort that will hopefully remain intact in the future in case additional issues arise where emergency aid is required in conflict zones.
– Deena Dulgerian