The World Food Programme (WFP) is bolstering its operations to provide food assistance to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Iraqis, using US$40 million of funding from the Government of Iraq.
“This contribution came at a crucial time and will allow us to maintain a regular and continuous food supply and distribution to up to 750,000 people over the next six months,” said WFP Iraq Country Director Stefano Porretti. “The donation shows the Government’s commitment to support all Iraqis, particularly those not covered by the Government-run food distribution system.”
This year, WFP launched a regional operation to provide food assistance to 1.2 million Iraqis displaced inside their own country and in Syria. Thanks to the Iraqi donation, the largest the Government has contributed to any UN agency, the Iraqi part of the operation is now 85 percent funded.
However, the Syrian part of the operation for 360,000 people still faces a 45 percent shortfall. Porretti said WFP was looking into the possibility of using a portion of the cash to purchase food inside Iraq, both as a means to reduce transport costs and to help to stimulate the local economy. Much of this would depend on access and security.
Security has severely hampered WFP’s ability to operate inside Iraq, where it began food distributions in March to the most vulnerable displaced people, who are not eligible for food rations under the PDS because they have left the governorate where they are registered.
Out of a planned 750,000 beneficiaries, WFP has so far reached some 390,000, working in cooperation with the government and humanitarian partners, including Islamic Relief, Mercy Corps, Mercy Hands, the Red Crescent and ACTED. WFP is now distributing food in 16 out of 18 Iraqi governorates.
A ceasefire has been generally holding in Sadr City, Baghdad, for the past few days, in the wake of serious clashes between Government forces and Shia militias, raising cautious hopes of improved security. Porretti said that if this improvement was reflected across the country, the Iraqi contribution would enable WFP to reach all its planned beneficiaries over the next five or six months.
Donors to WFP’s US$133.5 million emergency operation in Iraq and Syria include Iraq (US$40 million), the United States (37.4 million), the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (US$10.1 million), the United Kingdom (US$3.9 million), Canada (US$1.9 million), Italy (US$1.8 million), Switzerland (US$400,000), Norway (US$270,000) and Greece (US$190,000). A further US$1.7 million has been received in multilateral contributions.