Responding to the recurring food shortages created by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has begun cash distributions to some 60,000 people – mostly internally displaced – in Government-controlled areas of the Lugansk and Donetsk region.
“We are using cash transfers, in areas where banks and markets are functioning, to restore some normalcy to people’s otherwise shattered lives,” said WFP’s Representative in Ukraine Giancarlo Stopponi.
Both cash and food voucher assistance allow people to go to the market and pick the food they prefer, which includes fresh vegetables, meat, poultry and dairy products – items not normally included in traditional food ration.
“It also gives a boost to markets and injects money into the local economy,” added Mr. Stopponi.
The first round of cash distributions began in northern Lugansk region through WFP’s partner, Mercy Corps. Each person will receive the equivalent of approximately $20.50 per month to purchase food. Around 140,000 people will be provided with either cash transfers or vouchers.
WFP has expanded its emergency operation to provide food assistance for more than 575,000 people until the end of the year. This includes 20,000 children who will receive locally-purchased supplementary food assistance for a period of six months to prevent a further deterioration of their nutritional status and health.
WFP was previously providing food assistance to close to 200,000 people.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has affected 5 million people so far, including at least 1.7 million children. WFP prioritizes the most vulnerable population groups amongst residents, returnees, internally displaced persons and host communities and children at risk of malnutrition.