The UN World Food Programme (WFP) did not start its operations until 1963. However, one of its earliest projects was helping rebuild from the destruction left over from World War I. The Hejaz Railway, which originally ran from Syria to Saudi Arabia, was damaged during the First World War of 1914-1918.
The WFP enacted a Food for Work project to help rebuild some still-damaged sections of the railway in Syria and Jordan. Workers were given food in exchange for their labor. The New York Times reported in 1964 that the food rations for this project would feed 750 workers for two years. Parts of the Hejaz railway are still operational to this day.
WFP continues Food for Work projects like this today to improve transportation which is essential for feeding a nation and building an economy. Without good roads or rails, food, medicine and critical supplies cannot move quickly or efficiently. Goods cannot be as easily exchanged. In South Sudan, for example, the lack of good roads has made food distributions that much more difficult in one of the world’s hungriest countries.
Conflict is raging within Syria again today with rebels battling the government. WFP says it “continues to provide food assistance to 850,000 beneficiaries in 14 Syrian governorates” through its partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. WFP, which relies on voluntary funding, needs donations to supply the food but also safe access so it can reach all those in need.
They are estimated to be at least 1.5 million people in Syria who will need food aid in the coming months as the fighting continues. There are also many Syrians fleeing into neighboring countries who will need assistance.