DAMASCUS – WFP is scaling up its food aid operations inside Syria to reach 2.5 million people in the coming months. The UN agency is currently assisting about 1.5 million people inside the country, both in opposition- and government-held areas.
View photos taken in late January during a food distribution in the Al-Shadadi area in the northeastern Al Hassakeh governorate, which is controlled by the opposition. See photos
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WFP plans to increase the number of vulnerable Syrians it can provide with food assistance, increasing capacity to reach two million people in March and 2.5 million by April.
Working with its partner, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) , WFP has been reaching up to 1.5 million people inside Syria with emergency food assistance since September, dispatching an average of 400 food trucks each month to the 14 Governorates.
Reaching the combat zone
To ensure the safe passage of food across the conflict lines, WFP staff and SARC volunteers coordinate food convoys with all parties on the ground, including community leaders.
In this way, food has been brought into both opposition- and government-held areas in recent months. Control of these areas changes constantly, but on average 40 to 45 percent of the areas that WFP has been reaching are opposition-controlled.
Taking advantage of brief lulls in fighting, WFP and SARC have also been able to reach many of the areas where fighting is ongoing and where families are besieged. Some areas, however, like the old city in Homs and some parts of North Aleppo close to the Turkish border, remain unreachable due to heavy fighting and road insecurity.
Besieged for weeks
Food distributions prioritize internally displaced Syrians, who make up 85 percent of the caseload. Many were besieged in their homes for weeks before they were able to flee and are now living with host families, renting apartments or taking refuge in public shelters.
The food basket given out in coming months will include eight commodities – rice, bulgur, pasta, vegetable oil, lentils, salt, sugar and canned pulses – which will be complemented by bread or wheat flour.
Over the last few months, WFP and its partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) have been able to reach displaced and besieged people with food in hotspot areas such as: Talbissa, Al-Rastan, and Al Houleh in Homs; Al-Shaddadi and Ras el Ain in Al-Hassakeh; Tal Abyad in Al-Raqqa; Al-Nabek, Yabroud, Douma in Rural Damascus; Ma'arat Ano'man, Jesr el Shoughour, and Teftanaz in Idleb; Al-Treymseh, and Halfaya in Hama; Al-Bab and Azaz in Aleppo; and Deir Ezzor and Abu Kamal in Deir Ezzor.