World Food Program Increases Food Assistance to Syrians
As fighting persists in Syria, life for the population remains a struggle and food security a challenge. Millions of people have been affected amid the escalating violence and the situation is rapidly deteriorating. The U.S. has announced a contribution of $65 million dollars to the World Food Program, which is operating within the Syrian borders.
The armed conflict in Syria, also called the Syrian Civil War, has been ongoing for years since unrest began in 2011. In the wake of the Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurred across the Arab world. What began as protests against the government gradually morphed into a rebellion after a violent military force used by President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
As of January 2015, the death toll in Syria had risen above 220,000 and approximately 6 million people have been displaced, cut off from basic human needs such as water, food and electricity.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is giving $65 million dollars to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to achieve their goal of providing food assistance to 4 million starving people inside the country and 1.6 million more in the neighboring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt.
In Syria, the WFP has been running dangerously low on funding but the money infusion from USAID will keep the WFP afloat and operating through November preventing what could have been a complete shutdown.
The U.S. being the biggest donor to the Syrian crisis has contributed more than $4 billion dollars overall, allowing millions of needy families within Syria and those affected outside access to food and clean water.
According to USAID, the U.S. has now given more than $1.2 billion to the WFP for its Syrian operations – including more than $530 million for operations inside Syria and more than $693 million for operations benefiting Syrian refugees.
Although USAID has donated billions to the WPF, the international community has for the most part dropped the ball, forcing the WFP to devalue their food vouchers by half to refugees and lowered the amount of food in monthly household parcels inside Syria. USAID and the WFP continues to reach out to other governments hoping to rally more support and pressure them to take more actions.
In a press release by USAID on Friday, July 31, 2015, Dina Esposito, Director of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace said, “we have heard tragic stories of hungry refugees returning to war-torn Syria and taking children out of school to beg.” He continued, “We hope this new funding will help mitigate such difficult choices and help Syrians as the winter months approach.”
In war torn Syria, families are fleeing what were once their homes, desperately seeking safety. Starving and suffering from illness, people are getting life-saving food, water and medical care, thanks to the WFP and the disaster averting financial rescue from USAID.
– Jason Zimmerman
Sources: USAID, Reuters
Photo: Huffington Post