News24

Syria allows agency to feed more people

2013-01-16 22:26

Geneva - The Syrian government will give the World Food Programme (WFP) greater access to the 2.5 million Syrians suffering from hunger, the head of the UN agency said on Wednesday.

Ertharin Cousin said that President Bashar Assad's regime gave WFP a list of 110 non-government organizations it could use to distribute food, and 44 of those mostly small-scale groups of local community volunteers were found to be suitable partners for the agency.

The agency says so far it's only been able to provide food to 1.5 million of the 2.5 million Syrians that the Syrian Arab Red Crescent says have been forced out of their homes because of the country's civil war.

The other 1 million people have been beyond the agency's reach, its officials say, because of factors such as the Red Crescent, its main partner agency, is stretched thin and many of the places are too dangerous because of fighting.

Cousin told reporters in Geneva that the Syrian government's latest move gives the UN access to these remaining 1 million hungry people, but there have been increasing numbers of attacks on WFP trucks in the past two months from government opponents.

"We are always limited by the violence, regardless of how many new partners we bring in," she said, adding that the opponents sometimes return the food to the agency after discussions are held.