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Interview: World Food Program chief says agency reaches 4.2 mln Syrian refugees

English.news.cn   2013-10-04 04:38:27            

by Stephanie Parker

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- As the political standoff in war-torn Syria continues to create dire consequences for the people located in the "pocket" areas of the "robust" bloody crisis, the UN World Food Program (WFP) has reached 3 million people inside the turbulent Arab nation and 1.2 million Syrian refugees perched in the surrounding Middle Eastern countries.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, the conflict of more than two years in Syria has produced one of the most dramatic and rapid forced displacement situations of recent years, with an estimated 4.25 million people internally displaced in the battle-weary country while more than 2.1 million either registered as refugees or waiting to register in the surrounding regions.

"There are 'pockets' where the conflict is so robust that we can not drive trucks in to the areas, and those communities locked into those areas need resources that we can not provide to them," the Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, said in a recent interview with Xinhua here.

She explained that "in Syria today we are serving 3 million people inside the country, and we are serving another 1.2 million people in the five neighboring countries," which leaves internally 1.25 million people without support to deal with situations of starvation and emergency need.

One example is Moadamiyeh, a suburb located west of Damascus, the Syrian capital.

In reference to the city, Cousin said the "frightening issues is that we can not get inside to see who is being harmed and unfortunately we are beginning to get some very disturbing pictures coming out of Moadamiyeh," including pictures of children starving to death.

"If you see two children who have died due to lack of access of food and water, isn't that enough for us as a global community to say stop and make sure that we can assist them?" Cousin said.

The executive director explicated the long-term fear of not being able to get into this volatile area. "There are babies in there who have no access to food. There are women and senior citizens that have no access to food," she said.

Thus, these unknown variables are part of a larger question and picture, which calls for a political resolution to the Syrian conflict between rebel groups and the government led by Bashar al- Assad.

Accordingly, the need for a political solution and increased funding to support the refugee population inside of Syria have been echoed across the world, but the overarching focus for the WFP executive director has become how to secure additional funding.

Currently, WFP supports 80 countries and will have to face a funding gap of 1.2 billion U.S. dollars next year. The gap grows larger every year.

This gap is estimated to effect the next three years of the UN food agency.

"We have a need budget that we have identified for 2014-2017 of over 6 billion dollars a year," Cousin said. "We are anticipating that we will only raise 4.2 billion dollars a year. That gap means people will not receive the total package of WFP support that our teams on the ground identify as necessary to meet the needs of the population we serve."

Consequently the difference between the WFP work and financial contributions from the international community has placed a serious cap on how many hungry bellies can be supplied with food.

"We are not going to move beyond the 875 million people who are food insecure," she said in response to the problems facing the global community when it comes to access to food, increasing global unrest and climbing death tolls in unstable countries like Syria.

Editor: yan
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