The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today that it will provide food aid this winter to 6,700 people in Georgia who have been displaced several times since fleeing their homes in 2008 amid fighting in South Ossetia.
Since then the displaced have been leading precarious lives in collective centres or with host families, the agency said in a news release.
“Winter is tough for the poorest and hungriest people in Georgia who are often forced to sell their belongings to feed their families and keep warm,” said Maha Ahmed, WFP Representative in Georgia. “By providing assistance during these hard months, we hope that at least some families will not have to resort to doing this and will still have assets in the spring.”
“We know there are many more people who need assistance, but we were unable to find the required funding to include them,” Ms. Ahmed said.
WFP plans to distribute wheat flour bought in bulk nearly two months ago, before prices escalated to its current level. The agency will also distribute a monthly cash stipend to enable the beneficiaries to diversify their diet by purchasing oil, grains, vegetables and other items.
The winter aid will be WFP’s last food assistance programme in Georgia after 17 years of support to the country’s most vulnerable. It will run until April or May 2011, when the Government will assume responsibility for the caseload of vulnerable people.
“Even though the Republic of Georgia has made great strides since gaining independence, much still needs to be done to improve household food security and extend social safety nets to include all of the most vulnerable,” Ms. Ahmed said. “For the sake of those who need support, I hope this does not drop off the country’s agenda in the future,” she added.