U.S. wheat to bolster food basket for Syrians, U.N. says

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The United States has delivered to the World Food Program enough wheat to feed more than a million Syrians for four months, the U.N. agency said in a statement on Sunday.

The MV Advantage ship offloaded part of the 25,000 tons of wheat in Beirut on Monday and the rest in Turkey’s Mersin port on Friday, the WFP said, adding that it will milled and then distributed across Syria as part of its emergency assistance program.

“We are very grateful for this timely contribution from the United States, which will allow us to supplement our food rations with wheat flour, especially in the areas where families are struggling to get their hands on bread, a staple part of their diet,” said the WFP coordinator for Syria, Muhannad Hadi.

The WFP said the wheat worth more than $19 million, will allow it “to add wheat flour to the monthly food basket of over one million people” who also receive a monthly food ration including oil, pasta, canned pulses and sugar.

The United States has contributed nearly $125.5 million to the WFP’s emergency program in Syria, where a conflict that erupted in March 2011 has killed more than 70,000 people.

The WFP said it needs to raise $19 million each week in order to provide food to 2.5 million people in need inside Syria and more than one million refugees in neighboring countries, particularly Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Saturday that Washington will double its assistance to the Syrian opposition to $250 million and expand its non-lethal military supplies to rebel fighters.

Kerry, also announced an additional $25 million in food assistance to help people inside Syria and refugees in Jordan, to be distributed by the WFP, on the sidelines of a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Istanbul.