Belgium, Italy assist IDPs and Refugees in Iraq

Belgium and Italy support WFP's assistance to displaced families and refugees in Iraq

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes two generous contributions from the Governments of Belgium and Italy of €1 million each (US$1.1 million) to assist internally displaced people (IDPs) and Syrian refugees in Iraq.

"The vulnerable situation of IDPs and refugees in Iraq is now further exacerbated by COVID-19. Italy remains committed to supporting WFP in its work to reach affected communities, helping people meet their food needs. Particularly in the current context, where many people have lost day jobs or cannot work, food assistance remains vital," said the Italian Ambassador to Iraq Bruno Pasquino.

Both contributions - committed pre-COVID-19 crisis - will enable WFP to distribute monthly cash-based transfers through electronic vouchers ("e-vouchers") and "mobile money," to 81,300 of the most vulnerable IDPs and Syrian refugees - who had to flee their homes and still live in camps. Cash assistance gives people the freedom to buy the food of their choice and at the same time sustains demand in local shops boosting the local economy, which is being badly affected by COVID-19.

Restrictions imposed to face COVID-19 in the country have pushed food prices higher while at the same time people's incomes diminished as they are unable to work. WFP is seeking US$31.9 million to help meet the increased needs of families affected by COVID-19.

"By addressing the food needs and assisting communities in strengthening their coping mechanisms, WFP plays a significant role in a number of countries and as such, is a key partner of Belgian humanitarian aid," said Ambassador of Belgium to Jordan and Iraq Filip Vanden Bulcke. "We are keen to support a comprehensive Food Security system in Iraq through our multiyear and flexible funding to WFP, to respond to people in need of humanitarian food assistance."

"As people's needs grow in the current context, WFP extends its gratitude to the Governments of Belgium and Italy for such strong and enduring partnerships," said WFP Representative in Iraq Abdirahman Meygag. "These funds are helping us ensure that the most vulnerable IDPs and Syrian refugees have enough to eat and prevent them from spiraling into hunger and poverty during this very difficult time."

Despite the retaking of areas that had been occupied by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), 1.4 million people continue to be displaced, hampered from returning to their homes due to severe damage, a lack of basic services and security issues. Due to violence in neighboring Syria, Iraq continues to host around 247,500 Syrian refugees.

(Source: UN)

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