Emergency Assistance in Syria- We need your help!!

by World Food Program USA

The Syrian conflict is entering its fifth year with some 12.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and 11 million more forced from their homes. WFP has supported the Syrian people since the first days of the conflict, and is now delivering food to almost 4 million people within Syria and nearly 2 million refugees in neighboring countries. 

WFP Communications Officer Dina El-Kassaby (pictured above) has been working on the relief effort in Syria, including visiting hundreds of refugees and other people whose lives have been destroyed.

Below, she provides a personal account of the current conditions on the ground, and the efforts WFP is making to help those affected. She also sounds a note of hope for the future.

A year ago today, I was in Baba Amr, a town in the city of Homs that sustained heavy damage early on in the Syrian crisis. 

I was speechless at the piles of rubble I saw everywhere I looked, the bullet holes in buildings and the grey miserable mess that surrounded me. The fighting had stopped and left behind a silent ghost town. I thought of the families who had been building memories there before this horrific conflict broke out, and what the city would have looked like a few years earlier with colour, trees and people. 

As I looked at rows of empty apartments, I wondered where the young couples raising their children had gone, and if the elderly and disabled citizens managed to escape without injury. I could hear my footsteps in the silence around me and it was hard to imagine that there was ever life there before. 

I took a photo of what was left of a family home, stunned that the wall had been torn down while the mirror in the bedroom was left intact. I couldn't believe my eyes. Though there were glimpses of hope, I had to try really hard to notice them. For example a few families had started moving back to whatever was left of their homes – most of the time with the windows and doors blown out. They just wanted to pick up the pieces and restart where they had left off.

Today, one year later, I am in Syria again. This time I am in Damascus, the capital city, and as I write this I'm distracted by the fact that I can hear traffic, motorcycle engines and honking outside. I can also hear laughter, music and occasional whistling and clapping at a party someone is hosting nearby. I just heard a gunshot and a cat meow. This morning, I heard explosions while I was brushing my teeth. 

It is all too bizarre to believe my ears. It is really striking that the impact of this crisis was so visually apparent in Baba Amr, but so well disguised in Damascus. Shops and restaurants are open in the city, there are traffic jams during the day, men coming in and out of barber shops and cafés where people play cards and backgammon are open at night. 

There is a façade of relative normalcy in the capital city, but I am not fooled by it. Speaking to my Syrian colleagues and the displaced families I have visited over the last few days, I can see how tired people are getting. "Syria is on the road to nowhere," one colleague told me. "This war stole my wife and kids from me," another said. The dark under-eye circles, the deepening frown lines and the pale complexions are a testament to the toll this war is taking on all Syrians.

As a Communications Officer for the Syria crisis, I often sift through photos, videos and statistics to tell the stories of the people I have met over the years in refugee camps or in shelters inside Syria. Sometimes I get too caught up in all the details to pause and reflect. But maybe that's a good thing, because when I do, I realize how terrifying this reality really is.

The Syria crisis is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Entering its fifth year, it continues to devastate lives and humanitarian needs have grown twelvefold since the start of the conflict in 2011. 

Today, there are 7.6 million internally displaced people inside Syria and most of them have moved several times, losing their savings, health and patience each step of the way. Neighboring countries are now hosting 3.8 million refugees who are living in densely populated camps in the desert or in crowded apartments that they often share with other families. 

While 9.8 million people inside Syria are in need of food assistance, hundreds of thousands are trapped in hard-to-reach and besieged areas. They are desperate, out of WFP's reach and falling victim to hunger. I'm worried about them. 

Despite all odds, our achievements here are tremendous. Every month, WFP reaches around 4 million people inside Syria and close to two million refugees in the neighboring nations. Since the start of the crisis, WFP has delivered more than two million metric tons of food to save the lives of displaced families on the move. We have also injected over $1 billion into the economies of the neighboring countries through the food voucher programme we use to support refugees.

Soon, this conflict will end and Syrians will come home to rebuild their lives and their country. I need to believe this to keep up the drive to serve. All of us must stand by the people of Syria and help them cope with the enormous difficulties they face so that they do not give up hope.

I promise I will not give up.

Photo credit: WFP/Rein Skullerud

CBS recently aired special segment on “60 Minutes” examining the devastating crisis in Syria. What really touched me was the impact of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in saving millions of lives each day thanks to supporters like you.

Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, more than a third of the country’s population have fled their homes. More than half of these refugees are children.

The conflict in Syria is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and WFP's largest and most complex emergency worldwide. Starvation has become a weapon of war against entire communities. One refugee summed up the hunger crisis in one line: Hunger doesn’t just destroy your body. It destroys your soul, your mind and your faith in the world.

Funding woes have become a constant concern for WFP as the violence in Syria continues to escalate and WFP had recently been forced to cut its food voucher assistance to 1.7 million Syrian refugees due to a lack of funding. But, thanks to donations and the unprecedented support of the American people, WFP has reinstated the voucher program to Syrians who have fled their homeland.

WFP has succeeded, despite fighting and problems of access, in meeting the food needs of 4 million of displaced people inside Syria and up to 1.8 million refugees in neighboring countries. None of this is possible without your support. Thank you.

If hunger is a weapon of war, food is a tool of peace. Thanks to your support, we are making a difference and feeding the dreams of a peaceful future in Syria. Please visit wfpusa.org/hungerhotspots to learn more.

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The Syrian crisis is now in its fourth year. Having fled their homes to escape the conflict, millions of Syrians are now without jobs, money or reliable access to food. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is running out of funds to provide food for almost 6 million Syrians receiving its life-saving assistance. In Syria, the size of next month’s food ration will be reduced and in neighboring countries the number of refugees receiving food or vouchers will be cut.

WFP has reached a record number of people whose lives have been turned upside down due to this crisis. It is a cruel irony that recently, WFP has had better access inside Syria enabling them us to reach a record number of people in August, including those in hard-to-reach areas. But just as WFP has the potential to scale up, the cupboard is bare, and unless we receive new contributions we will be unable to provide people with desperately needed food.

“We have reached a critical point in our humanitarian response in Syria and in neighboring countries and unless we manage to secure significant funding in the next few days, I am afraid we will have no choice but to scale back our operation,” said Muhannad Hadi, WFP’s Regional Emergency Coordinator for the Syrian crisis.

WFP is funded entirely by contributions from governments, the private sector, other organizations and individuals. Hadi acknowledged that other emergencies were competing for donors’ attention and that aid budgets were stretched. But he said that in Syria, needs were still high and that the international community had made progress in recent weeks in gaining access to many people in hard-to-reach areas.

Muhannad Hadi adds: “The world has come together with huge generosity to provide food and other assistance over the last three years, and it is heart-breaking to think that we can no longer build on that investment that has given some stability to the shattered lives of so many people.”

Help WFP continue to reach as many people as possible in Syria by making a donation today.

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The conflict in Syria continues to impact the humanitarian situation resulting in significant humanitarian needs.  

Access to basic needs including food, water, electricity and medical supplies has been interrupted in areas witnessing armed activities. A growing number of main breadwinners have become unemployed and soaring food and fuel prices across the country have also exacerbated the situation. In response, WFP – in partnership with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and 23 other local organizations– is providing monthly food assistance to close to 3 million Syrians and will scale up to feed 4 million people by October.

Rawda Al-Khouli is one of 155 WFP aid workers currently working in Syria, delivering food for nearly 4 million people every month. 

When her home in the Syrian town of Qudsaya was destroyed, most of her family fled the country. But Rawda remained so she could look after her elderly mother.

She is now working on the front lines of WFP's emergency operation, coordinating food distributions with our partner NGOs.

http://wfpusa.org/blog/day-life-wfp-staffer-syria

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THE SYRIA RESPONSE is WFP’s largest and most complex emergency worldwide. In the past two years, ongoing
violence there has forced nearly 5 million people to flee their homes, creating a growing humanitarian crisis. But WFP has been on the ground since the crisis began.

Last month alone, WFP dispatched enough food to feed more than 3.4 million people affected by the violence, including eight communities in rural Homs and Deraa that had been previously inaccessible. In addition to staples like wheat flour, bulgur, lentils and canned goods, WFP also distributes specialized nutrition products—known as Plumpy’doz and Nutributter— to nearly 100,000 young children in Syria each month. In Jordan, more than 400,000 portions of flat bread are distributed daily in the Zaatari refugee camp. 

Where food is available but unaffordable, WFP has so  far provided more than $100 million in vouchers to refugees in Lebanon and Jordan that can be redeemed in markets, which in turn boosts the local economies. In Lebanon, WFP is currently rolling out an innovative electronic voucher system— made possible with technical support from MasterCard— that is expected to reach up to 800,000 people by the end of the year. By moving from paper vouchers to e-vouchers, WFP can reach more people more effectively.

At any given moment, there are approximately 5,000 trucks, 50 planes and 30 ships delivering WFP food assistance across the planet.

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Organization Information

World Food Program USA

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.wfpusa.org
Project Leader:
Erin Wiegert
Washington, DC United States

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