WFP airlifts food supplies to starving families in Northern Syria
By ABDULHAKIN SHERMAN
The first UN World Food Programme (WFP) flight carrying food to families cut off from humanitarian supplies in Al Hassakeh Governorate landed Saturday night in Qamishly airport.
The WFP-chartered flight carried 40 tons of food including rice, bulgur, pulses, salt, vegetable oil and sugar. WFP also sent Plumpy’doz, a specialized nutrition product used to treat and prevent malnutrition in children.
It is estimated that 275,000 people living in many areas in Al Hasskeh Governorate are in need of humanitarian assistance but have been cut off from food and humanitarian supplies for more than six months.
Over the course of a month, the plane will fly at least 25 rotations between
Damascus and Qamishly to deliver over 1,000 metric tons of humanitarian cargo including food, nutrition supplies, medicines and other relief items on behalf of other humanitarian organizations operating in Syria including, the WHO, UNHCR, IOM, ICRC, and GOPA.
WFP is prioritizing over 75,000 people to receive food assistance, mainly displaced families in shelters and unfinished buildings, female-headed households as well as some vulnerable Iraq refugee families in the Hwal camp. Most of those families have not received any food rations for six months.
“These airlifts are a big step forward in the humanitarian response in Syria this year and bring a glimmer of hope to the people of Al Hassakeh Governorate who have survived without a lifeline for far too long,” said Jakob Kern, WFP Syria Country Director.
“WFP food stocks in Qamishly were exhausted a few weeks ago, so the first seven airlift rotations will deliver desperately needed food rations and nutrition supplies with distributions starting within the week.”
Food distributions will be conducted by WFP’s partners on the ground in coordination with local relief committees in 35 distribution points around the governorate covering rural and urban areas.
The airlifts are being coordinated by the UN Logistics Cluster with technical assistance from the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service.
Road access into northeastern Syria’s Al Hassakeh Governorate from inside the country has been blocked by ISIS for more than two years, while the border crossings from the neighbouring countries have been closed since the beginning of 2016.
This has caused the humanitarian situation in the governorate to deteriorate drastically and food insecurity levels to skyrocket.
Across Syria, WFP provides food to more than 4 million people every month through regular road transport, cross-line convoys, high altitude air drops and cross-border food deliveries.