BAGHDAD – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has gladly received a generous contribution of $16.8 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA). It will directly support food assistance for displaced and refugee families, and the digitalization of the national Public Distribution System (PDS) for food rations.

The latest contribution makes USAID the U.N. World Food Programme’s most vital donor in 2020, supporting up to 280,000 displaced Iraqis and 76,000 Syrian refugees through cash and voucher assistance that meets their immediate food needs. This fresh support comes at a time when COVID-19 and the associated disruption to food access particularly exposes some of Iraq’s most vulnerable families.

“The United States continues its support of the U.N. World Food Programme to provide life-saving assistance to crisis-affected people in Iraq, including internally displaced people and refugees,” said USAID Mission Director John Cardenas. “It helps families get through this difficult time of increased need caused by COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, the digitalization of the PDS together with the Ministry of Trade is aimed at a more efficient food ration system, helping ensure the right food reaches the right people at the right time. The recent introduction of the ‘Tamwini’ (‘My Food Ration’) smartphone app allows families to update data and upload supporting documents from home, limiting unnecessary movement to PDS offices. In the longer term the ‘ePDS’ and Tamwini aim to cover all 8 million households in Iraq.

“We are thankful to the people and government of the United States for their support to help families in Iraq put food on the table,” said U.N. World Food Programme Representative in Iraq Abdirahman Meygag. “During the pandemic, many people have resorted to negative coping mechanisms – such as eating less, or borrowing food or funds. Such support from USAID/BHA is helping families to make ends meet at this time.”

The U.N. World Food Programme’s latest ‘Hunger Snapshot’ analysis indicates that since last week there has been an increase of over 75,000 households resorting to negative coping strategies, and that 2.7 million people in Iraq do not have enough food to eat. The U.N. World Food Programme urgently requires an additional $20.7 million to continue providing life-saving food assistance to support families over the next six months.

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The U.N. World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA @WFP_Iraq @wfp_mena @wfpgovts

For more information, contact: Sharon Rapose, WFP Erbil, +964 780 915 0962, sharon.rapose@wfp.org

BAGHDAD – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) received a special contribution for its COVID-19 humanitarian response in Iraq from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA). The generous funding of $6.25 million will help provide food assistance over three months for nearly 80,000 internally displaced Iraqis and 22,000 Syrian refugees, whose needs have grown as a result of the global pandemic.

Many people have lost their jobs during the crisis and no longer have an income. Through monthly cash transfers, mostly via mobile phone, the new U.S. contribution will help the U.N. World Food Programme support vulnerable internally displaced and refugee families in camps. Markets and camp stores are still open and functioning, so people can redeem their cash entitlements and buy the food they need.

In response to COVID-19, the U.N. World Food Programme has scaled up its assistance in Iraq to reach 76,000 refugees and 280,000 displaced people.

“During the crisis, we have stepped up our support for families who are no longer able to put food on the table and are relying more on humanitarian assistance,” said U.N. World Food Programme Iraq Representative Abdirahman Meygag.

“As our most generous contributor so far in 2020, WFP is grateful to USAID and the American people for enabling WFP to support families through these uncertain times.”

As part of the U.N. World Food Programme’s approach to cash assistance, new “cashless payments” are being introduced in camps in three governorates so far: Diyala, Ninewa and Salah al-Din. This allows people to buy food at camp shops directly through their mobile phones in a “contactless” manner. Cashless transactions reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the virus as well as avoid people’s unnecessary movement outside the camp.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA @WFP_Iraq @wfp_mena

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

  • Sharon Rapose, WFP, +44 7958 958 959, sharon.rapose@wfp.org
  • Islam Anbagi, WFP, +964 780 915 0989, islam.anbagi@wfp.org

BAGHDAD – The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are stepping up their collaboration to help meet the essential needs of vulnerable people in Iraq. WFP has worked with UNHCR and partners to identify an additional 35,000 Syrian refugees and 10,000 people displaced by conflict who will be included in WFP food assistance programs to help them cope with the impact of COVID-19.

Refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are among the groups most affected by the pandemic in Iraq because they frequently depend on daily and seasonal employment to put food on the table. Much of this type of work has stopped amid lockdowns and precautionary measures.

WFP will now reach 76,000 refugees who will receive food assistance and 280,000 IDPs, including households who are struggling to make ends meet. Many of these families were in a position to stop receiving assistance but are now being pushed into food insecurity on the back of the pandemic.

To help families purchase basic hygiene items to prevent the spread of COVID-19, UNHCR continues the second month of hygiene cash assistance, supporting 550,000 refugee, internally displaced, and returnee members of the community. This is part of UNHCR’s package of assistance which includes strengthening health care services and disinfection activities in camps. UNHCR, WFP and partners also continue to run awareness sessions on COVID-19 precautionary measures with people assisted and camp shop staff.

“Throughout the pandemic, UNHCR and WFP’s joint work has prioritized reaching the most vulnerable IDPs and refugees, while taking measures to safeguard their health. We call upon the donor community for additional support as we scale up our response because many people cannot work at this time and needs have increased,” said Acting Representative of UNHCR in Iraq Philippa Candler, and WFP Representative in Iraq Abdirahman Meygag, in a joint statement.

UNHCR and WFP in Iraq are appealing for $26 million and $31.9 million respectively for their COVID-19 response. Special precautions during distributions have included maintaining safe distances as people redeem their food or cash entitlements, using masks and hand sanitizer, disinfectants to clean frequently used items, washing hands regularly and more. Both agencies are also implementing emergency livelihoods projects to help affected people to earn an income again. These are to provide essential support to vulnerable families and inject cash into the local communities.

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About WFP
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

About UNHCR
Our primary purpose at UNHCR is to safeguard the rights and wellbeing of people who have been forced to flee.  Together with partners and communities, we work to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another country. We also strive to secure lasting solutions.

Follow us on Twitter @UNHCRIraq @WFPIraq @WFPUSA

For more information please contact:
Sharon Rapose, WFP, +44 7958 958 959, sharon.rapose@wfp.org
Islam Anbagi, WFP, +964 780 915 0989, islam.anbagi@wfp.org

Rome – Escalating hunger needs in sub-Saharan Africa dominate a World Food Programme (WFP) analysis of global hunger hotspots in the first half of 2020 with millions of people requiring life-saving food assistance in Zimbabwe, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central Sahel region in the coming months.

The sheer scale and complexity of the challenges in Africa and other regions will stretch the resources and capacity of WFP and other agencies to the limit.  Ramping up the humanitarian response will again require the generous support of donor governments to fund the assistance required to save lives and support development.

“WFP is fighting big and complex humanitarian battles on several fronts at the start of 2020,” said David Beasley, Executive Director of WFP. “In some countries, we are seeing conflict and instability combine with climate extremes to force people from their homes, farms and places of work. In others, climate shocks are occurring alongside economic collapse and leaving millions on the brink of destitution and hunger.”

The WFP 2020 Global Hotspots Report highlights grave challenges in sub-Saharan Africa over the next six months with Zimbabwe, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central Sahel region standing out when it comes to the needs of hungry children, women and men. The WFP report notes that amidst an imploding economy, the situation in Zimbabwe is increasingly precarious as the country enters the peak of its “lean season” when food is at its most scarce and the number of hungry people has reached its highest point in a decade. WFP is planning assistance for more than 4 million people in Zimbabwe as concerns grow that the impact of a regional drought could drag yet more countries down in the first months of the year.

“Last year, WFP was called upon to bring urgent large-scale relief to Yemen, Mozambique after Cyclone Idai, Burkina Faso and many other crises to avert famine,” said Margot Van Der Velden, WFP Director of Emergencies. “But the world is an unforgiving place and as we turn the page into 2020 WFP is confronting new, monumental humanitarian challenges that we need to address with real urgency.”

Hunger Hotspots
  • A rapidly evolving crisis in Haiti is of deep concern at the turn of the year as escalating unrest paralyzes the economy, driving food prices out of reach of many people (+40% between October 2018 and October 2019).  According to a recent IPC survey on food insecurity, this has left 3.7 million people – or one-third of the population – in need of assistance
  • In Asia, Afghanistan faces insecurity combined with drought, leaving more than 11 million people – over a third of the country’s population – severely food insecure.
  • In the Middle East, WFP can look back on its success in Yemen where it scaled up by 50% from providing food assistance to 8 million people a month at the beginning of 2018 to 12 million by the end of the year.
  • As it looks forward into 2020, WFP remains alert to growing food needs in Iraq and Lebanon, where civil unrest and macro-economic crisis are leading to an increase in food insecurity.

WFP estimates it will require more than $10 billion to fully fund all its operations in more than 80 countries around the world in 2020.

“Every year at WFP we plan ahead for the next 12 months and ask for support from the generous governments, private sector institutions and members of the public who help us reach our humanitarian and development goals,” said Beasley.“ As an agency that depends entirely on voluntary donations, we have a responsibility to show WFP can continue to be the most efficient and effective global organization delivering the kind of food assistance that saves lives and changes lives across the world.”

Photos of Hunger Hotspot countries available here.


The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, natural disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org): Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 653 1149, Mob. +1 202 770 5993

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