- Published on Friday, 29 June 2012 09:04
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) began a food voucher programme to assist 40,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley as part of a regional emergency operation to support Syrians who fled unrest in their country.
WFP will reach 27,000 refugees in Lebanon by the end of July with plans to scale up to reach a total of 40,000 people before the end of the year. The voucher system allows people living in urban settings to buy their food including fresh commodities from local shops as well as boost the local economy.
The UN food agency is scaling up its assistance to 120,000 Syrian refugees in neighbouring Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Joint assessments in these countries have shown that food is a top priority for refugees.
"The majority of Syrians have left their homes and lives behind -- living, at best, with host families and, at worst, share derelict houses with other refugee families," said WFP Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Daly Belgasmi. "WFP is addressing the immediate food needs of these refugees as part of a UN joint effort to alleviate the suffering of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees."
On Thursday, the UN humanitarian agencies and partner organizations appealed for US$193 million to help support the growing number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. WFP needs US$23.8 million to cover the food requirements of refugees over the next six months as part of this joint appeal.
Humanitarian agencies have been registering an average of over 500 Syrian refugees a day in neighbouring countries during the last three months. Areas from which high numbers of people have left include the cities of Homs, Hama and Idleb.
WFP has also scaled up its operations inside Syria to reach half a million people in need of food assistance and is preparing to further expand operations in July to reach 850,000 people affected by the current crisis.
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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