In Syria, a need for new WFP partners

Syrians carry boxes of food aid. Aid agencies are having difficulties distributing aid to displaced Syrians. Photo by: IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation / CC BY-NC-ND

For the World Food Program, delivering aid to Syrians displaced by the civil war is not just an issue of funding. Logistics problems are growing.

Escalating violence has prompted the United Nations agency to pull out its employees from its offices in the cities of Homs, Aleppo, Tartous and Qamisl. And without enough implementing partners on the ground, there is now a huge gap in food aid delivery.  

To be exact, of the 2.5 million Syrians needing food aid each month, WFP can only reach 1.5 million, Elizabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for the organization, told journalists in Geneva on Jan. 8.

WFP’s local partner, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, is overstretched and cannot anymore scale up operations, Byrs said. The agency is currently looking for new partners on the ground and trucks to use for food distribution.

On top of that, WFP’s activities in Syria remain underfunded. The agency needs an additional $136 million to sustain its feeding programs for the 1.5 million Syrians through June.

In all, the United Nations and its partners seek $1.5 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of Syrians affected by the conflict through June 2013, including around a million who have fled to Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt. A pledging conference is scheduled for Jan. 30 to help gather the amount.

Of all these countries, Jordan hosts the most Syrian refugees, at nearly 151,000. With the frigid winter season and increasingly strained resources in host communities, providing aid to refugees has become more challenging. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that several Jordanian aid workers had sustained injuries from rocks and sticks thrown by some frustrated refugees at the Zaatari camp, when their tents collapsed due to strong winds.

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.