WFP Halts Airdrops to Syria’s Deir Ezzor City as Land Corridor Opens
DAMASCUS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today reached formerly besieged parts of Deir Ezzor City in northeast Syria by land for the first time since May 2014. For the past year and a half, vital food and humanitarian supplies could only be delivered to trapped families in the besieged city via costly high-altitude airdrops.
WFP sent five trucks carrying wheat flour bags for 70,000 people in Deir Ezzor City today through a route linking the governorates of Homs and Deir Ezzor via Salamiyah Road in western Syria. The wheat flour, which arrived today, will complement food parcels provided by other humanitarian actors. Plans are underway to commence deliveries of regular WFP food rations and ready-to-eat food over the coming days.
“Reaching Deir Ezzor City by land is a breakthrough and will allow for more sustained humanitarian access to thousands of people who have been trapped there for over three years,” said Jakob Kern, WFP Country Director and Representative in Syria. “Ending the airdrop operation will also result in significant cost savings, meaning WFP will be able to provide a lifeline of food assistance to more people in Syria who are in dire need.”
With the resumption of road deliveries WFP has discontinued its high-altitude airdrop operation through which it delivered food and other relief supplies by air five days a week to nearly 100,000 people living under siege. Airdrops are always a last resort, as land access is easier and a more cost-effective way of delivering food.
Since April of last year, WFP has completed 309 airdrops. Having regular land access to Deir Ezzor City will mean savings of an estimated US$37 million per year, enough to provide food assistance to an additional 200,000 people a year.
“WFP is extremely grateful for the generosity of our donors who have made this support possible for the past year and half,” Kern added.
Every month, WFP aims to deliver food assistance to four million vulnerable people across all 14 governorates in Syria. In addition to its emergency operation, WFP is also scaling up support for long-term recovery by focusing on livelihoods, nutrition and improving access to primary education for children in Syria through school meals.
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
For more information please contact:
Marwa Awad, WFP/Damascus, Mob. +963 958 882 900
Dina El-Kassaby, WFP/Cairo, Mob. +2010 15218882
Bettina Luescher, WFP/Geneva, Mob. + 41-79-842-8057
David Orr, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513-3179, Mob. +393402466831