WFP rushes vital assistance to Turkey, Syria for earthquake victims

Residents of Syria’s Hama Governorate gaze at earthquake-damaged buildings. Photo: WFP

 ANKARA – The World Food Programme (WFP) is on the ground responding to the devastating impact of the two earthquakes that hit Türkey and Syria on Monday, the UN agency says. WFP food assistance has been underway since Tuesday with plans to reach half a million people in both countries, officials say.

 As of Wednesday morning, WFP had reached nearly 64,000 people in urgent need of food assistance, providing ready-to-eat food rations, family food packages and hot meals. The food being distributed requires no cooking and provides immediate relief for families whose precarious position is made worse by freezing temperatures.

  In southeast Türkey – the area closest to the quakes’ epicentre – WFP was coordinating with authorities to provide family food packages to people in temporary camps. The camps already house around 44,000 Syrians under temporary protection and now include newly displaced Turkish nationals. WFP is delivering family food packages to 16,400 affected people in Osmaniye Cevdetiye camp, east of the epicentre.

 In areas where supermarkets and supply chains are struggling because of damaged infrastructure, WFP will provide family food packages to Turkish nationals for 1-2 weeks while services stabilize.

 WFP will also support municipalities in the southeast to reactivate and expand soup kitchens set-up during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide daily hot meals to quake-affected families. WFP is working closely with the Turkish Red Crescent and partners.

 In Syria, WFP and its local partners have delivered ready-to-eat rations and daily hot meals to 38,000 affected people in shelters.

 “The world woke up to devastating news on Monday. A region plagued by years of compounding crises, faces yet another one, with unimaginable loss and destruction. Immediate relief cannot be delayed,” said WFP Regional Director in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Eastern Europe Corinne Fleischer. “WFP’s strong footprint in both countries enabled us to immediately mobilize our staff, logistics capacity and partners to respond to people’s most immediate food needs.”

  In northwest Syria, the quakes have further complicated an acute humanitarian crisis, in which 4.1 million people – or 90 percent of the population – already depend on humanitarian assistance. Of these, close to 3 million people have been displaced by conflict – often more than once – and despite the freezing temperatures still live in tents, makeshift shelters, or abandoned buildings.

  WFP has enough ready-to-eat food inside northwest Syria to assist 125,000 people and is providing this to local partners. WFP has already provided partners with food for 30,000 people. Millions of Syrians depend on United Nations cross-border assistance from Turkey, which is enabled by a Security Council resolution.

 “WFP continues to appeal for unimpeded access to northwest Syria – now more than ever – when humanitarian assistance is urgently needed to reach those affected by the quake. Nature has sadly affected those who already had to face years of compounded suffering and displacement,” added Fleischer.

 Each month, WFP assists 5.5 million people across all of Syria. However, the programme is now only 30 percent funded and WFP faces the prospect of cutting up to 70 percent of the beneficiaries from July onwards should additional funding not materialize on time.

 WFP is committed to working with its partners to bring life-saving assistance to families affected by the earthquakes in Türkey and Syria. To meet the urgent food needs, WFP is appealing for dlrs 46 million for a total of 500,000 people in Türkiye and Syria. This includes hot meals and food rations to 200,000 newly displaced people in Syria and 300,000 people in Türkiye, including 70,000 refugees.

 WFP mourns all the lives lost in this tragedy, including one of its own staff members, an official statement added.