Confronting bitter winter UN agency steps up food aid in conflictaffected eastern

“The ongoing conflict has affected tens of thousands of people who are in desperate need of help,” the WFP Head of Office in Ukraine, Giancarlo Stopponi, said, stressing that the agency urgently needs $35 million to continue to provide aid through June.“They are either trapped by the conflict or have fled their homes, thinking they would return in a few months and are now living in difficult conditions, especially in winter when temperatures are extremely low.“WFP is overcoming enormous operational challenges to deliver food assistance to the most vulnerable people – especially in harsh weather conditions,” he added, noting that the aid will target both non-Government-controlled and Government-controlled areas. It is estimated that more than 1.5 million people have been displaced in Ukraine since the beginning of the crisis in 2014.WFP will give priority to the most vulnerable and food insecure among internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and conflict-affected residents as well as female-headed households.It will provide food to those who are particularly vulnerable such as the elderly, the disabled and those unable to leave the conflict-affected areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, mostly in non-Government controlled areas and across the ‘contact line.’It will also continue to assist people with cash or vouchers, in relatively secure IDP-hosting communities in Government-controlled areas where the food supply is adequate and markets are functioning well. WFP also provides assistance to people living in hospitals or social institutions facing a dire financial situation, many of which are hosting IDPs.The agency has stepped up its activities in recent months. In November it increased aid to non-Government-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine, delivering food to areas of Luhansk for the first time in four months ago.