Rome, Oct 14 (IANS/AKI) The United Nations World Food Programme is “deeply concerned” for the safety of civilians caught in Turkey’s six-day-old military offensive in northeast Syria, and has helped feed over 70,000 people fleeing towns in the area since last week, WFP said in a statement on Monday.
WFP “is deeply concerned about the safety of civilians caught in the violence and urges that vital supply routes be kept open and safe for humanitarian deliveries,” said the statement.
Tens of thousands of people are fleeing their homes daily and there are an estimated 130,000 people heading to seek refuge in the cities of Hasakeh and Raqqa, although the true figure could be higher as many fleeing the aerial campaign prefer to stay with family or friends rather than in shelters, the statement said.
“We are trying to reach as many people as possible and are despatching emergency food packages as tens of thousands are fleeing their areas every day,” said WFP Representative and Country Director in Syria Corinne Fleischer.
“WFP and other humanitarian agencies on the ground call on all parties to keep supply routes open and ensure unconditional, unimpeded and continuous access to people fleeing and those caught in the violence,” Fleischer said.
WFP is giving families in shelters ready-to-eat food that does not require cooking while those staying with host families receive a regular food package. Newly-displaced people who are in pressing need of food, clothes and other essentials are being given shelter in schools, according to the statement.
More people are expected to flee their homes in the coming days as military operations continue, the statement warned.
WFP said it is working with partners in Syria to identify and those in need as well as to register families who are hosting displaced people to provide them with additional food. The UN agency has been assisting more than half a million people in northeastern Syria every month and in September helped over 4.3 million people across the country, said the statement.
Dozens of civilians and fighters have died in the Turkish military offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) which started on 9 October after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US forces from the region.