Expanded UN feeding scheme targets schoolchildren, most vulnerable Iraqis

26 May 2009

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced it is expanding its food aid operation in Iraq to reach the country’s most vulnerable groups and to begin providing free school lunches to children.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced it is expanding its food aid operation in Iraq to reach the country’s most vulnerable groups and to begin providing free school lunches to children.

WFP Iraq Country Director Edward Kallon noted that the move marks a “significant transition” in the agency’s efforts to assist vulnerable Iraqis, which until now was focused on those who have moved around the country to escape civil strife and lost access to government food rations.

“Now we are moving to address the needs of all the most vulnerable people in the country with problems of access to sufficient food,” he stated.

WFP’s current Iraq operation began in January 2008 to supply some 750,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) with emergency food rations, as well as 362,000 displaced Iraqis in Syria.

The programme will now be extended to the end of 2009, and will provide food aid to an additional 577,000 people in Iraq, including pregnant and nursing women, malnourished children, orphans, disabled people, female-headed households and small-scale farmers in 41 food-insecure districts in 14 governorates.

The operation will now also include a new school feeding programme, under which WFP will pilot the provision of free school meals to some 170,000 primary schoolchildren in eight extremely food-insecure districts in Diala, Ninewa, Sulaymaniya and Wassit Governorates.

WFP is appealing to donors for an additional $42.7 million – of which it has so far received $16 million – to fund the expanded operation.

A food security analysis conducted last year by WFP and the Iraqi authorities found that an estimated 930,000 people were currently food insecure in Iraq, with a further 6.4 million at risk of becoming food insecure in the event of the failure of the Public Distribution System (PDS).

Mr. Kallon said the expansion of the existing operation in Iraq would pave the way for a new two-year relief and recovery operation to start next year.

 

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