Middle East News
Jan 3, 2008, 16:01 GMT
Cairo – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) launched on Thursday a 126-million-dollar emergency operation to provide food assistance to more than one million displaced Iraqis, a UN press release said.
The aid operation will run until December 2008 and is expected to assist those Iraqis who are unable to meet their basic food needs.
The aid will reach 750,000 of the most vulnerable Iraqis displaced within the war-ravaged country, by providing complementary food packages to those who are unable to get their food ration cards.
According to an estimate by the UN organization, around 2.2 million Iraqis are displaced within their home country because of continuing violence. Many of those are currently living in poor conditions with host families, in abandoned buildings or camps.
‘We are facing a growing humanitarian crisis as a result of the continuing violence in Iraq. An increasing number of displaced people cannot meet their food needs and therefore require more help. We hope that the food assistance we provide can help avert a much bigger crisis,’ said WFP country director for Iraq, Stefano Porretti.
In addition, the one-year operation is expected to help more than 360,000 Iraqis who have fled to Syria, according to the organization. Initial support, also through monthly food rations of rice, vegetable oil, and lentils, is expected to reach 155,000 first then gradually extend to reach the rest of those in need by the end of 2008.
Syria is home to more than 1.5 million Iraqi refugees, ‘many of whom have no savings, no income and no means of support,’ according to the WFP.
A recent UN assessment, conducted in collaboration with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, revealed that about a third of Iraqi respondents living in Syria said they skipped one meal a day to feed their children, while 60 per cent said they were buying less expensive foods, often less nutritious, to cope with rising prices.
‘The needs of Iraqis in Syria are mounting. Many have depleted their meager resources and cannot cope with the rising costs of living. They desperately need humanitarian help,’ said WFP country director for Syria, Pippa Bradford