BEIRUT, LEBANON — A ship carrying wheat from the U.S. — enough to help feed more than 3.5 million Syrians for one month — has delivered its cargo to the port of Beirut as part of a massive emergency food assistance operation by the UN World Food Program (WFP). This is the second ship to bring a U.S. wheat contribution to support WFP’s life-saving work in Syria in less than six months. 

The MV Mathawee Naree which started its journey in Houston, Texas, U.S., arrived on Sept. 20 carrying close to 22,000 tonnes of wheat. Some 7,000 tonnes was offloaded in Beirut, to be milled into flour in Lebanon and then transported to Syria by road. The ship then sailed to the port of Mersin in Turkey to offload the rest of the wheat, to be milled then transported onwards by sea to Syria for distribution by WFP to vulnerable families. 

“The generous US contribution to WFP emergency’s operation for Syrians affected by the conflict comes at a critical time, as needs are increasing yet we are facing real challenges in raising money to keep up,” said Muhannad Hadi, WFP’s emergency coordinator for the Syria crisis.

WFP is providing wheat flour to bakeries that are still working in urban areas and they then provide bread for some of the most vulnerable families. In Aleppo and Idleb, where the bakeries project has been piloted, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is distributing bread produced with WFP wheat flour in selected bakeries to displaced families and other needy people.

In rural areas, WFP distributes flour directly to families who are able to bake their own bread at home. The families receive a 25 kg bag of flour in addition to their monthly food ration typically composed of vegetable oil, pasta, canned beans, lentils and sugar. WFP is prioritizing areas where there are severe shortages of bread. 

The new wheat donation, worth more than $15 million, is part of the $270 million overall contribution of the U.S. government to WFP’s Syria emergency operation to assist vulnerable families in Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries. 

The Syria response is WFP’s largest and most complex emergency worldwide.  WFP needs $30 million every week to meet the food needs of people affected by the conflict.