The World Food Programme ( WFP) said Thursday that it has started cash distributions to 60, 000 people, most of whom are internally displaced, in Ukrainian government-controlled areas of Lugansk and Donetsk, a UN spokesman told reporters here.

WFP“WFP’s representative in Ukraine said that it is using cash transfers in areas where there are functioning banks and markets to restore some normalcy to people’s otherwise shattered lives,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing.

“As the conflict continues, people are experiencing food shortages and the deterioration of their nutritional status,” he said, adding that WFP has expanded its emergency operation to provide food assistance for more than 575,000 people till the end of the year.

Both cash and food voucher assistance allow people to go to the market and pick the food they prefer, which includes fresh vegetables, meat, poultry and dairy products — items not normally included in traditional food ration.

“It also gives a boost to markets and injects money into the local economy,” said Giancarlo Stopponi, WFP representative in Ukraine.

The first round of cash distributions began in northern Lugansk region. Each person will receive the equivalent of approximately 20.50 U.S. dollars per month to purchase food. Around 140,000 people will be provided with either cash transfers or vouchers.

The WFP has expanded its emergency operation to provide food assistance for more than 575,000 people until the end of the year. This includes 20,000 children who will receive locally-purchased supplementary food assistance for a period of six months to prevent a further deterioration of their nutritional status and health.
The WFP was previously providing food assistance to close to 200,000 people.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has affected 5 million people so far, including at least 1.7 million children. The WFP prioritizes the most vulnerable population groups amongst residents, returnees, internally displaced persons and host communities as well as children at risk of malnutrition.

Ukraine has been wrecked by civil unrest, political upheaval and violent conflict since 2014. The violence that has engulfed parts of the country’s eastern regions has devastated large cities and towns and forced more than a million people from their homes.

As the conflict continues, hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped in conflict areas with limited access to food, heating and healthcare. The WFP is providing assistance, in cooperation with the Ukrainian government, by offering food or cash and vouchers to those who need it most. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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