The World Food Programme (WFP) has announced that its first food delivery to the northern city of Kirkuk is set to arrive within days.
"Right now, the Turkey corridor is the safest way to get food aid to the people of Kirkuk," Heather Hill, a WFP spokeswoman in the Turkish capital, Ankara, told IRIN on Monday. "It is more difficult to dispatch food through Syria and Jordan because of security concerns. Fortunately, the situation in Kirkuk appears to be getting more stable every day, but we are facing an urgent need to resupply our warehouse there."
Some 19 trucks carrying 625 mt of lentils and 35 mt of sugar destined for Kirkuk crossed the Turkish border at Habur on Monday afternoon, with another 11 set to follow.
Since WFP dramatically stepped up its food aid consignments - by nearly 200 percent - through Turkey to northern Iraq on 14 April, the agency has dispatched 1,072 trucks carrying 23,261 mt of food commodities (primarily wheat flour) across the border. Since its first convoy into northern Iraq on 4 April, WFP has brought a total of 29,505 mt into the three Kurdish-controlled northern governorates - nearly 50 percent of the average monthly requirement of their 3.6 million residents.
On Saturday, WFP staff in Erbil, the centre of the agency's logistical operations for northern Iraq, travelled to Kirkuk to help prepare the WFP warehouse there for the reception of the trucks. According to Hill, the staff cleaned up damage sustained from looting during the conflict, but noted that as the facility served as a transit warehouse, only a small amount of food had been taken - about 250 mt, comprising vegetable oil, milk and salt.
She said that national staff working in Kirkuk had reported that residents, like those in the southern and central governorates, had received extra rations prior to the conflict on 20 March.
Moreover, a sense of normalcy was returning to Kirkuk city, with government offices being cleaned and repaired, shops opening and people returning to the streets.
Also on Monday, WFP confirmed its first successful delivery of food aid to northern Iraq from neighbouring Iran. Ramin Rafirasme, the agency's spokesman in the Iranian capital, Tehran, told IRIN that some 200 mt of food had crossed over from the western Iranian province of Kermanshah on Monday afternoon. "There was a great need for this food to be sent in urgently," he said.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions