WFP Rushes Vital Food Assistance to Families in Türkiye and Syria Affected by Devastating Earthquakes

Photo: WFP/Photo Library/2023
Published February 8, 2023

ANKARA/DAMASCUS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is on the ground responding to the devastating impact of the two earthquakes that hit Türkiye and Syria on Monday. U.N. World Food Programme food assistance has been underway since Tuesday with plans to reach half a million people in both countries.

As of Wednesday morning, the U.N. World Food Programme had reached nearly 64,000 people in urgent need of food assistance, providing ready-to-eat meals, 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 Türkiye – the area closest to the quakes’ epicenter – the U.N. World Food Programme is 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. The U.N. World Food Programme is delivering family food packages to 16,400 affected people in Osmaniye Cevdetiye camp, east of the epicenter.

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

The U.N. World Food Programme 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. The U.N. World Food Programme is working closely with the Turkish Red Crescent and partners.

In Syria, the U.N. World Food Programme and its local partners have delivered ready-to-eat meals 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 U.N. World Food Programme Regional Director in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Eastern Europe Corinne Fleischer. “The U.N. World Food Programme’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% 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.

The U.N. World Food Programme has enough ready-to-eat food inside northwest Syria to assist 125,000 people and is providing this to local partners. The U.N. World Food Programme 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.

“The U.N. World Food Programme 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, the U.N. World Food Programme assists 5.5 million people across all of Syria. However, the program is now only 30% funded and the U.N. World Food Programme faces the prospect of cutting up to 70% of the beneficiaries from July onwards should additional funding not materialize on time.

The U.N. World Food Programme is committed to working with its partners to bring lifesaving assistance to families affected by the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. To meet the urgent food needs, the U.N. World Food Programme is appealing for $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.

The U.N. World Food Programme mourns all the lives lost in this tragedy, including one of its own staff members.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is 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.

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