The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday welcomed Dr. Gerd Müller, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, to Lebanon, where vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugee families receive monthly WFP food assistance which is largely funded by Germany this year.
WFP assists almost 700,000 people each month through its electronic voucher programme which allows families to buy fresh food from more than 450 local shops across Lebanon.
The German minister met Syrian families at a shop in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, where they were using their electronic vouchers to buy rice, oil, fresh fruit and vegetables – items that are not usually included in traditional food rations. The Bekaa Valley hosts the highest number of Syrian refugees across the country, mainly living in informal tented settlements and rented accommodation.
“I am delighted to see first-hand the positive impact that Germany is making on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Lebanon,” said Minister Müller. “Buying nutritious food is a priority for Syrian refugee families and I am grateful that WFP has developed an efficient system which allows them to buy the food they need, when they want it.”
Besides ensuring that refugees and vulnerable Lebanese families receive the necessary food assistance, this programme has the added benefit of boosting Lebanon’s economy. Since 2013, WFP has injected almost US$700 million into the local economy through its electronic voucher programme.
“It is thanks to Germany that WFP has been able to maintain its food assistance to vulnerable families affected by the Syrian crisis this year,” said Dominik Heinrich, WFP Representative and Country Director in Lebanon. “This year alone, Germany has provided €144 million (US$162 million) towards our food assistance programmes in Lebanon.”
Since the onset of the Syrian crisis, Germany has been among WFP’s largest donors, supporting its emergency response both inside Syria as well as in the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt with a total of €788 million (US$901 million).