DAMASCUS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has so far provided immediate food assistance to more than 70,000 people fleeing towns in northeastern Syria as military operations continue. 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.

WFP is providing families in shelters with ready-to-eat food that does not require cooking while those staying with host families receive a regular food package. There are an estimated 130,000 people on the move, seeking refuge in Hasakeh and Raqqa cities. Many people choose to stay with family or friends rather than in shelters, so that figure could be higher.

Schools are being emptied to host newly displaced people who are in pressing need of food, clothes and other essentials. More people are expected to flee their homes in the coming days as military operations continue.

“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.”

WFP, with partners on the ground, is working to identify and support people in need as well as register families who are hosting displaced people to provide them with additional food as needed.WFP has been assisting more than half a million people in northeastern Syria every month. In September a total of 4.3 million people across the country received WFP food assistance.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are gearing up to support up to 400,000 people who may require assistance and protection in the coming period.