World

UN food agency aims to reach 500,000 in Syria soon

April 24, 2012

GENEVA, April 24 — The United Nations said today that it aimed to deliver food assistance to 500,000 people in Syria “in the coming weeks”, about double the number it expects to reach in April.

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger (right) talks to reporters as he arrives earlier in April to meet the head of the Syrian Red Crescent, Abdul Rahman Attar (left), in Damascus. — Reuters file picThe president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger (right) talks to reporters as he arrives earlier in April to meet the head of the Syrian Red Crescent, Abdul Rahman Attar (left), in Damascus. — Reuters file picIn a statement, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said that it was expanding its assistance at the request of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and stood ready to increase its operations in the country further “when access permits”.

UN aid agencies have been largely shut out of Syria but a joint assessment mission carried out last month with Syrian authorities estimated that at least one million people needed humanitarian aid.

The WFP has been helping 100,000 people a month in cities including Homs, Hama, Idlib and Damascus. It is “scaling up food assistance to reach a quarter million people by the end of this month inside Syria, with plans to double the caseload to reach 500,000 people in the coming weeks”, it said.

“As the conflict continues, Syrians in areas affected by the violence are struggling to feed their families and WFP is deeply concerned about the potential for food insecurity,” said WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin.

More than 9,000 people have died in Syria in 13 months of fighting sparked by a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. The UN Security Council on Saturday approved the deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers to monitor a shaky UN-backed truce implemented earlier this month. — Reuters

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