As violence ravages their home and life savings disappear, many Syrian refugees are getting a taste of the home with the U.N. World Food Program’s (WFP) voucher-based food aid.
According to an article published by WFP, nearly 200,000 Syrians have fled the violent conflict to nearby Egypt and Turkey. While those still in the country endure shortages, and aide workers report an inability to safely delivery food, the WFP provides vouchers to nearly 30,000 refugees in Turkey and Egypt.
The WFP reports that these electronic or paper vouchers allow Syrians the ability to prepare the meals they are familiar with by buying foods such as cereals, dairy products, vegetables and fruits. The ability to prepare dishes that are culturally important or familiar is incredibly important for refugees who experience alienation from their home and families, or trauma from displacement and violence.
“Coming from a village, we used to grow our own vegetables, and now we have the opportunity to buy things that I used to grow and make the same type of food that we used to cook back home,” Aziza, a young refugee told WFP reporters.
The voucher system has been so well-received and empowering to Syrian refugees, the U.N. reports that many have organized and offered their temporary homes as voucher distribution centers.
This new model of aid sets an important precedent for the future of global food aid. Traditional food rations are often unsustainable in terms of transportation and quality. As long as refugees can access cooking equipment in their camps, the voucher system supports local vendors and brings refugees a comforting slice of home.