The United Nations said on Tuesday that it aimed to deliver food assistance to 500,000 people in Syria “in the coming weeks,” roughly double the number it expects to reach in April.
In a statement, the U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) said that it was expanding its assistance at the request of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and stood ready to increase its operations in the country further “when access permits.”
U.N. aid agencies have been largely shut out of Syria but a joint assessment mission carried out last month with Syrian authorities estimated that at least one million people needed humanitarian aid.
The WFP has been helping 100,000 people a month in cities including Homs, Hama, Idlib and Damascus. It is “scaling up food assistance to reach a quarter million people by the end of this month inside Syria with plans to double the caseload to reach 500,000 people in the coming weeks,” it said.
“As the conflict continues, Syrians in areas affected by the violence are struggling to feed their families and WFP is deeply concerned about the potential for food insecurity,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.
More than 9,000 people have died in Syria in 13 months of fighting sparked by a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. The U.N. Security Council approved on Saturday the deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers to monitor a shaky U.N.-backed truce implemented earlier this month, according to Reuters.