More than 1.2 million Iraqi refugees are living in Syria, according to government figures. Of those, 130,000 (all of whom have mobile phones, WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella told Agence France-Presse) regularly receive food aid and other assistance from the WFP and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, so this pilot program is but a drop in the bucket. However, if it works, it could be a huge boon to refugees all over the world.
Special SIM cards were donated by mobile phone service provider MTN for
the four-month pilot, which could be extended if successful.
Syria’s Ministry of Economy and Trade will provide the food items through its stores in the Jaramana and Sayeda Zeinab neighbourhoods in Damascus, where most Iraqi refugees live.The wider ramifications of such a program are that people who are scattered to outlying areas, away from most refugees and far from places where aid is generally distributed, could have a much easier time getting aid in the future.
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