Iraq: as Ramadi fighting intensifies, UN food agency rushes supplies to thousands displaced
22 May 2015 – As tens of thousands of people continue to flee fierce fighting in the Ramadi district of Iraq, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is rushing food assistance there, a spokesperson confirmed in Geneva today, as she appealed for $108 million to continue operations in the country until October 2015.
Briefing reporters, WFP spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs warned that the agency could start running out of food and money for its voucher programme in areas with functioning markets in the coming months if no new contributions are received.
Almost 25,000 people have fled Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, following recent attacks by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and intense fighting in the city. Most of the displaced are heading towards Baghdad, with several thousands of families fleeing for the second time in a month.
Yesterday, some 25,000 people received emergency food assistance in Habbaniya, west of Baghdad, and supplies for 15,000 additional displaced people were en route for Amiriyat Al Fallujah, Ms. Byrs said.
Also yesterday, WFP completed distributions of monthly food rations to 28,500 people who had cooking facilities in Amiriyat Al Fallujah. Those family food parcels included wheat flour, sugar, cooking oil and rice.
Last week, WFP and its partners provided emergency supplies to more than 45,000 people in locations across the affected area. Since the Ramadi crisis started on 10 April, the WFP and its partners have assisted more than 208,000 people with three-day emergency food packages.
Ms. Byrs explained that the 'three-day ready-to-eat' rations are designed to meet the dietary needs of people on the move. Each ration includes canned meat, tahini, canned beans and fish, dates and bread. And WFP has pre-positioned emergency supplies with partners for distribution in order to assure a rapid response if needs should increase in the coming days.
WFP has carried out distributions to people fleeing the Ramadi conflict in Baghdad, Babil, Kerbala, Diyala, Wassit, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, as well as to the newly displaced in eastern Anbar governorate.
In 2014, the WFP reached 1.8 million displaced and conflict-affected people across Iraq's 18 governorates and was aiming to provide monthly assistance to about the same number in 2015.
But due to significant funding shortfalls, WFP since April reduced the size of monthly family food rations it provided to displaced families outside camps, Ms. Byrs said.
Families who depended almost entirely on assistance because they live in camps would still receive full rations, she added.
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