GENEVA - The World Food Program reports it is scaling up its operation to provide emergency food to tens of thousands of homeless, hungry people in Syria’s war-torn province of Idlib.
Humanitarian officials say conditions for some three million civilians in Idlib have become intolerable since Syria and its Russian allies launched a major offensive in mid-December to seize this last rebel stronghold.
Since then, the United Nations reports more than 300,000 people, 80 percent of them women and children, have fled their homes in a desperate bid to protect themselves from heavy bombing and shelling.
Last year, the World Food Program nearly doubled its food assistance from 550,000 beneficiaries to one million in northwest Syria. Given the increasing conflict and displacement, WFP spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs says her agency is scaling up its operation to provide emergency food aid to more than 126,000 displaced.
"WFP and its partners are now pre-positioning life-saving food for more than one million people in northwest Syria for six weeks. It is — I can just say it is vital we continue to be able to reach these desperately vulnerable people whose lives are being torn apart by fighting.”
Idlib is under siege, so WFP only can bring food into the territory from Turkey. Byrs says this cross-border operation from Turkey has made it possible for WFP to feed hundreds of thousands of destitute people in Idlib last year and will continue to do so this year.
The United Nations reports more than eight years of brutal civil conflict has pushed millions of Syrians into hunger and poverty. It reports the war has displaced more than six million people within the country and created a food crisis for more than seven million who suffer from chronic food shortages.