The European Union has provided a new contribution of €5 million for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide food assistance to vulnerable families, over six months.
In its response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable in Iraq, WFP has scaled up its response to help meet the food needs of 76,000 Syrian refugees and 280,000 vulnerable displaced Iraqis, in camps throughout the country.
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European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said, “The EU support is helping to cushion the blow that the coronavirus emergency has inflicted on vulnerable families in Iraq, especially displaced people and Syrian refugees who normally rely on daily wages to get by. In difficult times like these, we must extend solidarity to those who are left defenseless and make sure humanitarian aid gets through to them.”
The European Union contribution is supporting WFP in providing monthly cash transfers to families, delivered via mobile phone or “e-vouchers” on registered cards, which they can redeem in food shops in the camps.
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WFP Representative in Iraq Abdirahman Meygag said, “The European Union is a longstanding partner of WFP and has taken action to help support vulnerable families who are now confronting the threat of the coronavirus as well as existing challenges. We thank the EU for this generous humanitarian contribution and for helping displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees at a time of desperate need.”
Refugees and displaced households are among the worst affected by the ongoing crisis. Many families depend on casual employment, and struggling with little or no income. They rely almost entirely on humanitarian support.
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WFP continues to pioneer innovative “cashless payments” in camps in Diyala, Ninewa and Salah al-Din, as another COVID-19 precautionary measure, whereby families can purchase food in camp shops with their mobile phones. At the same time, WFP is on standby to provide ready-to-eat food packages or “immediate response rations” in case supplies to food markets are disrupted. The emergency packages cover the food needs of a family of five, for three days.