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WFP Executive Director Meets Top Turkish Officials And Visits Syrian Refugees In Turkey

KILIS – The Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, has concluded a visit to Turkey this week by meeting Syrian refugees in Kilis camp on the Turkish-Syrian border.

The visit to the camp came after Cousin spent two days in high level meetings with Turkish officials in Ankara and Istanbul, where she expressed gratitude for the generosity of the Turkish people and the government for welcoming displaced Syrians and for Turkey’s support to WFP in global emergencies.

“It’s because of the compassionate response of the Turkish people and WFP’s strong partnership with the government of Turkey that we have been able to rise to the challenge of assisting so many Syrians in need of food assistance during this ongoing humanitarian crisis,” she said.

Cousin was accompanied in her visit to the refugee camp by the Turkish Minister of Economy and high level government officials. She met Syrian refugees and heard stories about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria that forced them to take refuge in neighbouring countries.

WFP’s Executive Director stopped at one of the supermarkets in the camp and met women using their WFP electronic food cards to purchase fresh food for their families. The vouchers allow refugees to choose the food they want and prepare it as they wish.

“These families have gone through very difficult moments, losing their loved ones and worrying about the people and homes they left behind,” said Cousin. “We have a commitment to continue to support Syrian refugees -- whether in Turkey or in the other neighbouring countries -- with some of them in very precarious conditions this winter.”

WFP began providing food assistance in partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent in October 2012 through an electronic food card programme. It plans to expand the project to assist 100,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey by June.

More than 200,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey are in 14 different camps spread out along the Turkish-Syrian border and living in host communities. Kilis camp, 50 kilometres from the Syrian city of Aleppo, was one of the first to be established in Turkey.

WFP has a regional emergency operation to cover the food needs of Syrians who have fled to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. About 600,000 Syrians have registered, or are awaiting, registration with office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Needs assessments in these countries have shown that food is a top priority and WFP is scaling up to provide food assistance to as many as 750,000 people.

Inside Syria, working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other partners, WFP is reaching about 1.5 million people a month with vital food assistance.

For broadcast quality footage of the Executive Director’s visit please contact Jonathan Dumont at jonathan.dumont@wfp.org and mobile: +39 340 224 3140

For photos in High Resolution together with caption material and terms of use, please contact Abeer Etefa abeer.etefa@wfp.org and mobiles: +20 1 066 634 352  and +905309561083  

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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.  Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries.

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For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Ankara, Mob. + 905309561083 and +201066634352
Laure Chadraoui, WFP/Beirut-Amman, Mob. + 962795917987 and +9613489925
Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 3854, Mob. +39 347 9450634
Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. +41 79 473 4570
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 5566909, Mob. +1 646 8241112
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel.  +44 20 72409001, Mob.  +44 7968 008474
Rene McGuffin, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1 202 4223383
Reem Nada, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +202 2528 1730 ext. 2610, Mob. +2 010 666 34522