February 29, 2016; Yahoo News

The World Food Programme, the UN food agency, has had an “unprecedented response” to its fundraising campaign, meaning it could fully reinstate its food assistance to Syrian refugees.

Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, told Yahoo that the funding meant “we are able to fully meet the immediate basic food assistance needs of 1.8 million refugees in the region and 4.5 million Syrians inside the country who rely on WFP assistance every day.”

The response—a record pledge of approximately USD 675 million to WFP Syria-related operations—will help save the lives of the most vulnerable people in Syria and the region. The funding also supports increased school meals and other in-kind activities that will help restore hope for a better future for the millions of people affected by the crisis.

The World Food Programme reports that the funds pledged will support a comprehensive restoration of food assistance for refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt from March until the end of the year. The funds will also enable WFP to provide a full food basket for families inside Syria from April until October 2016. Of the USD 675 million pledged, Germany made a landmark contribution of USD 623 million from the German Federal Foreign Office and the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The funding is much needed in the fifth year of Syria’s conflict. In circumstances as grim as those in Syria—which the United Nations estimates to have killed more than 250,000 people and displaced 12 million people—any response that offers relief to the suffering ought to be celebrated.

NPQ has covered the world’s largest humanitarian crisis for the past five years, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai’s call for a greater response in September 2015. In January 2016, NPQ highlighted the documented starvation of Madaya, just one of the atrocities humanitarian organizations are attempting to bring attention to and aid to.

In addition to a fragile ceasefire at the time of writing, NPQ has covered the multiple challenges to Syrian relief efforts, from the re-emergence of polio in 2013 to repeated attacks on NGO facilities, some of which are thought to have been deliberate.

With widespread consensus in the humanitarian community both of the devastation and the need for continued aid, this a vital opportunity to provide sustained humanitarian support for people who have endured five years of mayhem.—James Araci