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Syrian refugees using WFP voucher programme to buy food in Iraq. WFP/Dina Elkassaby

By the World Food Programme

BRUSSELS – A contribution of €10 million, announced today, from the European Commission’s Directorate for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), has been welcomed by the United Nations World Food Programme, and brings the Commission’s total assistance to WFP for its Syria operations to almost €42 million since the crisis began two years ago.

This generous contribution will help WFP realise its intention to reach 2.5 million people inside Syria, as well as one million refugees in neighbouring countries, in the coming months.

“This is a critical time for Syrians. Many have been forced to flee their homes and have lost their belongings and they need more help as this crisis enters its third year.” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. “We are determined to continue our life-saving assistance but, until the conflict ends, we can do so only with the generosity of donors like ECHO.”

WFP started its emergency operation inside Syria in August 2011. Since then, it has distributed more than 83,000 metric tons of food to millions of Syrians across the country. Half of the new funding will be used to provide food assistance to the 2.5 million people WFP aims to reach in both government-controlled and contested territory in the coming months.

The other half of today’s funding from ECHO will go to Jordan (€3 million) and Lebanon (€2 million) whereWFP is scaling up efforts to reach 260,000 and 275,000 people respectively. WFP plans to reach up to 800,000 people in the five neighbouring countries by the end of the month.

In the case of vulnerable Syrians who have fled their country, WFP uses ECHO funding for food vouchers, which prove effective where refugees are living among host communities and where food is available in the markets, but they cannot afford it. WFP’s transition from food rations to food vouchers is well underway in many neighbouring countries. ECHO is supporting these WFP projects in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.

The World Food Programme, a United Nations body, is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. The WFP says that every year it feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries.

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