In 2016 and as the Syria conflict is about to enter its sixth year, WFP is hoping to assist up to 735,000 vulnerable Syrians who have been displaced to Turkey, contingent on funding. The year began with a number of high-level visits. EU’s Commissioner Stylianides, USAID Food for Peace’s Dina Esposito and UN Deputy Secretary General Eliasson all met with Syrians assisted through WFP’s e-food card programme implemented jointly with the Turkish Red Crescent.
The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid visits Gaziantep
E-food card assistance for Syrians living outside of camps started in 2015 thanks to European funds from ECHO. On 24 January, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Christos Stylianides, visited a family supported by the ECHO-funded programme in Gaziantep as well as a contracted supermarket. The commissioner was very moved by the vulnerability of the family and tweeted that support would continue as long as needed.
USAID Food for Peace Head visits Kahramanmaraş
On February 4, Dina Esposito, Head of USAID’s Food for Peace (US) section, visited both in-camp and off-camp recipients of WFP assistance in Kahramanmaras.
The USAID delegation visited one of the contracted markets in the city center. Ms. Esposito took the chance to speak with Syrians shopping with the WFP/Kızılay E-food Card.
The delegation visited several WFP-assisted families living off-camp, and a family in their tent in the camp. All the families thanked the Food for Peace delegation and the WFP team for the food assistance. Ms. Esposito and the delegation asked the families about their living conditions and the impact of the e-card food assistance on the quality of their lives. These families left a strong impression on Ms. Esposito who published an account of her visit on a blog.
European Parliamentarians visit WFP-assisted camp and off-camp Syrian refugees
On February 9, European Parliamentarians from the LIBE committee (Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee) visited Syrian families receiving WFP’s e-food card assistance in Gaziantep, a programme funded by ECHO.
That same week, their colleagues from the Budget committee of the EU Parliament were briefed on the developments of the Syria crisis in Turkey and visited the EU-funded food assistance programme in Osmaniye camp. The delegation was warmly welcomed by the camp authorities, and, accompanied by the WFP team, they visited the supermarket where Syrians shop with their e-food card. The delegation seemed impressed by the variety of good quality products on sale at reasonable prices.
The British Foreign Secretary visits Saricam camp in Adana
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visited Saricam camp on 15 January. WFP representatives accompanied Mr. Hammond to the camp supermarket and briefed him on the e-food card programme. He was impressed by the quality and range of foodstuffs, remarking that ‘this is a real supermarket.’
In the run-up to the London conference, Mr. Hammond tweeted about his visit to the supermarket and indicated his hopes for more support by the international community.
UN Deputy Secretary General visits a family benefiting from WFP’s e-food card programme in Gaziantep
On February 21, the UN Deputy Secretary General (DSG), Jan Eliasson, held a round-table meeting with UN and NGO representatives to discuss operations and challenges on the ground.
During his busy two-day schedule in Turkey, Mr. Eliasson found time to visit a family assisted by WFP. This family, from Aleppo, has been in Turkey for more than two years. The parents have three boys and an autistic girl. The father cannot work for long hours because of a health problem, so the boys work after school until 9:30 pm to support the family. The parents are very much satisfied with the e-food-card assistance, especially as they can now afford buying milk for their daughter.
Mr Eliasson mentioned that he is a fan of WFP’s work in general and was very enthusiastic about the programme. He listened carefully to the story of the family,what they faced inside Syria as well as on the way to and once inside Turkey. One of the children described how he and other children survived a missile falling very close to where they were playing and how traumatized the family is by what they have experienced.