War causes hunger. If we could stop hunger, maybe we can start peace. The International Day of Peace is 21 September, and its theme this year is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All,” a strong reminder that we need to come together to support the almost 60 million children, women and men who have been displaced by conflict and ensure they are fed and given an opportunity to rebuild their lives.
While the world is making progress reducing hunger each decade, regional wars, terrorism and civil strife have forced the most amount of people from their homes since World War II. Millions of families are now refugees or displaced inside their countries with little hope of a secure future for their children. Ultimately, they need an end to war and conflict, but they also need food assistance to survive. That’s why the World Food Programme (WFP) is working every day to provide lifesaving food to families affected by conflict as well as natural disasters, feeding more people than any other humanitarian organisation and offering choices during difficult times. Here are two examples of how WFP helps create a more stable world.
The Syrian crisis
Fatmeh, a Syrian refugee now living in Lebanon, recently told us the harrowing story of how her and her family had to flee their home because of the continued bombing of Idlib in northeastern Syria. But the real nightmare began when they crossed the border into Lebanon, where they joined many other Syrian refugees that now face hunger, illness and a bleak future.
It has been three years since Fatmeh arrived in Lebanon with her family. During their first year, they could rely on humanitarian assistance to make ends meet, but when the humanitarian funding crisis began in 2013, all support stopped. A year later, their youngest son Moaz, was born and life became even harder.
At that time, the number of Syrian refugees receiving food assistance from WFP fell by almost 30 percent because of the need to prioritise those most vulnerable. Eventually, a lack of funding meant that WFP was forced to cut support to Fatmeh and her family entirely, which made survival a daily challenge. Today they are receiving food assistance again, which helps sustain them and provides choices during desperate times.
Conflict in South Sudan
Ongoing conflict, climate change, poverty and an upcoming lean season are pushing 4.6 million people in South Sudan into hunger.
Nyanath, a mother of four, whose husband was killed by fighting, told us “the children of South Sudan are dying because of the war and hunger. We don’t have enough rain to plant our crops. We have had no food since April. Now we are facing hunger. WFP came to rescue us – to give us food and, we say thank you. I am appealing to the Government of South Sudan and the Opposition. This war is making us truly suffer. We are suffering – please, brothers, sit and make peace. Think about our lives.”
A need for peace and food assistance
To help raise awareness about the vital role food assistance plays in creating a more peaceful world and to provide a tangible way for people to get involved, global companies have come together on the International Day of Peace to shine a spotlight on WFP’s work through a 30-second commercial that is airing in 38 countries. Learn more about the effort and how you can make a difference.