UN agency prioritizes most needy Syrian refugees in Iraq for food assistance

6 August 2015

In an effort to meet the food needs of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees living in Iraq, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has announced that it will focus its resources this month on those living in the country’s Kurdistan region.

“Our assessments have shown that while some families have the resources to meet their food needs, many Syrian families in the Kurdistan region still need continued assistance,” explained Matteo Perrone, WFP Emergency Coordinator for the Syrian refugees operation in Iraq.

“Our effort is to focus on meeting the food needs of the most vulnerable refugees,” he added in a news release.

This month, WFP will channel all available resources to over 48,000 refugees who still require support to meet their food needs. The monthly voucher value will be reduced to $10 per person per month for over 47,000 moderately vulnerable refugees, while nearly 1,000 refugees considered the most vulnerable will continue to receive $19 per person per month to meet their food needs.

Some 50,000 previously assisted Syrian refugees will no longer receive food assistance from WFP. These people have been advised of the decision by SMS messages and other means.

The decisions being taken on the prioritization of food assistance are based on comprehensive interagency food security and vulnerability assessment, to measure the general food security status of refugees living in camps and their ability to cope, WFP said.

Factors taken into account include access to livelihood opportunities, food consumption, household expenditure, coping strategies and other socio-economic considerations.

The assessment found that food insecurity was not a major problem faced by refugees in camps, due to the fact that Iraq is the only country in the region where refugees can hold work permits, allowing them to earn money to meet their families’ food needs. The assessments found that 85 per cent of Syrian refugees in Iraq have an external source of income.

Efforts will be made to make sure nobody falls through the cracks, stressed the agency. “Through our regular post-distribution monitoring, WFP will keep a close eye on the food security situation for all refugees to ensure that families affected by these cuts are not impacted negatively,” Mr. Perrone stated.

WFP’s food voucher programme for Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries is the largest in the world, and is funded entirely by voluntary contributions. Nearly 1.6 million Syrian refugees, spread across five countries in the region, are assisted through WFP food vouchers every month.

Last month, WFP avoided suspension of that programme thanks to a $65 million from the United Sates.


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