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WFP launches nutrition programme for Syrian refugees

By JT - Mar 09,2014 - Last updated at Mar 09,2014

AMMAN — The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a nutrition programme for the treatment and prevention of moderately acute malnutrition among Syrian refugee women and children living in camps and communities in Jordan, the WFP said Sunday.

The WFP, sister UN agencies and NGOs, in cooperation with the Health Ministry and the Department of Statistics, conducted a joint nutrition survey to assess the nutrition situation and requirements of Syrian refugees living in Jordan. 

The survey found that 4 per cent of Syrian refugees under the age of five, and more than 6 per cent of pregnant and breastfeeding women require treatment for moderately acute malnutrition, according to a WFP statement.

“As refugee families continue to arrive in Jordan each day, the effects of living for long periods with problems getting food on the local markets in Syria are becoming clearer,” explained Jonathan Campbell, WFP’s emergency coordinator for Syrian refugees in Jordan.  

“WFP wants to make sure that we meet the refugees’ food and nutrition needs, so [the programme] is working with its partners to support the development of a healthy next generation of Syrians,” the statement quoted Campbell as saying.

The nutrition programme is organised in cooperation with Save the Children Jordan and Medair.

“Malnutrition is an underlying cause of death of children under the age of five around the world,” said Manal Wazani, the CEO of Save the Children Jordan.

“During the critical period from conception to two years of age — the first 1,000 days of life — chronic malnutrition can have irreversible effects on the mental and physical development of children,” she added.

Through Save the Children Jordan, the WFP is distributing the specialised, fortified Super Cereal Plus to all pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers and children under five in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Mafraq Governorate, some 80km northeast of Amman.

Meanwhile, Medair, in coordination with the Jordan Health Aid Society (JHAS), is assisting refugees living in towns in the governorates of Irbid, Zarqa, Mafraq, Amman and Ramtha. 

Provision of the nutritional supplement for the urban refugees is taking place at six JHAS clinics across the country and through a mobile outreach team that visits families and delivers the nutrition product to their homes. 

Patients can recover from moderately acute malnutrition with approximately four months of treatment using Super Cereal Plus, the statement said.

“Medair has seen a great improvement in the health and nutrition of the young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women. The patients are responding well and they are happy with the care they receive from our community teams and clinic workers,” said Gabriele Fänder, Medair’s regional health and nutrition adviser.

The WFP is also providing food assistance to over half-a-million Syrian refugees in Jordan through a food voucher programme that allows refugees to purchase the food items of their choice including fresh meat and produce from local Jordanian shops.

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