Ertharin Cousin, WFP Executive Director, visited families in Syria. Millions of people have fled their homes, creating a humanitarian crisis in which food is a top priority. Copyright: WFP/Abeer Etefa
DAMASCUS – Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), ended a visit to Syria on Thursday after high-level talks with government officials and meeting displaced families in a food distribution centre in the capital Damascus.
“The humanitarian situation in Syria is getting more difficult every day, as almost half the Syrian people are now food insecure,” said Cousin.
“This month, we scaled up our food assistance to reach 4.25 million people inside Syria. The challenge is gaining access to the hot spots and besieged areas. Without access we cannot reach the increasing number of families trapped by the fighting and in desperate need of food assistance.”
During her one-day visit to Syria, Cousin stopped at a food distribution centre in Damascus where she talked to women and children who were receiving their monthly food rations.
One of the women told Cousin that she lives in an apartment with 32 members of her extended family. She and her family took refuge in Damascus after fleeing different parts of Syria when their homes were destroyed. None have been able to find jobs and they depend on WFP food assistance to put food on the table for the children.
“The Syrian crisis is more than numbers. Every family that I spoke to shared a sad story of tragedy and loss,” said Cousin. “I am overwhelmingly moved by the resilience and the spirit of the Syrian people. It is essential that the international community continues to support the provision of basic humanitarian needs.”
As fighting in Syria continues, WFP is appealing for close to US$2 billion to assist more than 7 million Syrians in urgent need of food assistance in 2014. These include 4.25 million people inside Syria and over 2.9 million refugees in neighbouring countries in need of food, making this WFP’s most challenging, complex and largest emergency.
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. On average, WFP reaches more than 90 million people with food assistance in 80 countries each year.