WFP / SYRIA COVID-19 PREVENTION MEASURES

31-Mar-2020 00:02:01
As COVID-19 cases in Syria are officially confirmed, nearly eight million people are food insecure and already extremely vulnerable. After nine years of conflict, Syrians will need the world’s support more than ever to stay healthy. WFP
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STORY: WFP / SYRIA COVID-19 PREVENTION MEASURES
TRT: 2:01
SOURCE: WFP
RESTRICTIONS: PLEASE CREDIT WFP ON SCREEN
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 25 AND 30 MARCH 2020 AND 27 FEBRUARY 2020, ALEPPO / IDLIB / DAMASCUS, SYRIA
SHOTLIST
25 MARCH 2020, ALEPPO, SYRIA

1.Various shots, WFP bread distribution

27 FEBRUARY 2020, MA’ARRAT MISRIN CAMP, IDLIB, SYRIA

2. Aerial shots, Ma`arrat Misrin Camp

30 MARCH 2020, DAMASCUS, SYRIA

3.SOUNDBITE (English) Corinne Fleischer, WFP Syria Country Director:
“After 9 years of conflict, the Syrian people have nothing left to cope with this new threat and the impact that it has on their livelihoods. Shops are closed, restaurants are closed and people have lost their livelihoods. It is now more important than ever that WFP ensures that they have a meal for their children.”

25 MARCH 2020, DEIR HAFER, SYRIA

4.Various shots, WFP food distribution
STORYLINE
As COVID-19 cases in Syria are officially confirmed, nearly eight million people are food insecure and already extremely vulnerable. After nine years of conflict, Syrians will need the world’s support more than ever to stay healthy.

With COVID-19 containment measures limiting people’s movement, WFP has introduced measures to ensure that beneficiaries receive their entitlements in as safe a way as possible.

WFP provides life-saving food to 4.5 million people each month. It is now increasing its distribution cycles and hours during the day, setting up handwashing stations, supporting beneficiaries to practice social distancing at distribution points and using SMS to notify families when they can collect assistance to avoid crowds. In partnership with UNICEF, the agencies are distributing soap and information leaflets about hygiene. WFP is also working closely with partners to introduce mobile distributions, where food is driven as close to families’ homes as possible.

Around 2000 household receive bread and flyers about COVID19 in Salheen, a poor neighborhood in Aleppo. It was under opposition control till late 2016. People here rely on daily or weekly wages, which have stopped now due to precautionary measures for COVID-19.

Ma`arrat Misrin Camp was established in December 2019 after the intensification of the shelling in south Idlib and mass exodus in the area. Around 200 people are living in crowded conditions there.

SOUNDBITE (English) Corinne Fleischer, WFP Syria Country Director:
“After 9 years of conflict, the Syrian people have nothing left to cope with this new threat and the impact that it has on their livelihoods. Shops are closed, restaurants are closed and people have lost their livelihoods. It is now more important than ever that WFP ensures that they have a meal for their children.”

WFP’s school feeding programme has been suspended after all schools closed due to COVID-19 and this affects more than 1 million children.

This food provides children across the country with nutrients they need to stay healthy. WFP Syria is investigating alternatives so students do not go hungry.

A new WFP map showing how COVID-19 is disrupting children’s school meals worldwide - Global Monitoring of School Meals during COVID-19 School Closures - provides daily on-screen updates on school closures and the number of children no longer receiving school meals as a result.

The price of a national food basket of basic commodities has increased by an average of 67 per cent since February 2019. Families in Idlib have been the hardest hit, with food prices increasing by 119 per cent over a 12-month period. Prices have further risen since COVID containment measures were put in place.

As Syria faces a progressive lockdown due to COVID-19, families are at risk of being pushed further into poverty by a loss of income, a deteriorating economy and rising food prices. A nutritious and sufficient diet necessary to strengthen their immune system will become beyond the reach of many.

WFP Syria’s latest VAM review on rising food prices found that families are increasingly relying on negative coping strategies. This includes reducing the number of meals and portion sizes they eat each day, selling livestock and assets in order to purchase food, and going further into debt.

More than 939,000 people have been displaced by escalating conflict in northwest Syria since December 2019. They now live in over-crowded camps where an outbreak of COVID-19 could have devastating impact consequences.

In March, WFP and partner staff provided lifesaving food assistance to 1.7 million people across northwest Syria. It is critical that WFP can continue to deliver food to these families via its cross-border operation from Turkey as this food is essential to keep people strong and build their immune systems.

WFP is in a race against time to help prevent the further spread of the disease while at the same time continue to provide life-saving assistance to more than 23 million people who depend almost entirely on WFP food assistance – more than two-third of them in Yemen and Syria alone.

As the virus continues to spread across the region, reaching the most vulnerable and in-need becomes a critical priority. Continued food assistance especially for refugees, displaced people and migrants, is of paramount importance. WFP is working to ensure it continues to deliver, minimize transmission risks for staff, partners and the people we serve and develop contingency plans to cover additional needs if required.

WFP is concerned about food security in the Middle East and North Africa region which has already been struggling with years of conflict, political instability and economic downturn and many countries are ill-equipped to respond to the pandemic.

WFP has carried out an analysis that looks at a range of factors including the Agency’s capacity to respond in-country, alongside indices that include capacity of national health authorities and national reliance on food imports. Based on this analysis, the Middle East was found as one of greatest priority.

The region may witness food shortages if the COVID-19 pandemic continues for several months. A protracted worldwide pandemic would negatively impact global supply chains, production, transportation and distribution of food products resulting in lower food exports by food-producing countries because of their high dependence on food imports, especially of staple and protein-rich foods. The region imports 65 percent of the wheat it consumes and spends around $110 billion on food imports.

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens millions of people in need of humanitarian aid in the MENA region. Around 26 million of those are forcibly displaced (refugees and internally displaced persons).

COVID-19 is threatening humanitarian aid, whether in terms of food, water and sanitation, medical supplies or health services. In addition, countries in conflict cannot mitigate the impact of a COVID-19 outbreak due to the devastation of health infrastructure.

Camps for refugees and internally displaced across the region are the most vulnerable to the current pandemic.

WFP is providing assistance to 1.6 million Syrian refugees across the region (in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and Jordan) as well as millions of displaced people in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

WFP is looking to pre-position buffer stocks of food and/or cash to provide at least 3 months of food supplies or cash for priority operations. Cash and vouchers are an increasingly significant component of WFP food assistance in the region, so stockpiling of food aid is not always essential.

The United Nations launched on Wednesday (25 Mar) its humanitarian response plan featuring an appeal for $2 billion to help the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. WFP as part of the Global Inter-Agency COVID-19 Response Plan, is calling for US$350 million to fund vital aviation, shipping, storage and transport, as well as engineering services in areas affected by the pandemic.

WFP declared its COVID-19 response as level 3 Corporate Surge Emergency (the highest level of emergencies) which requires the activation of enhanced response management mechanisms, additional flexible and timely funding and extraordinary additional capacity to support country offices. Extra efforts will need to be put in place to ensure WFP’s workforce and our partners are able to operate especially in areas with weak health systems.
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