Halloween is here! Children will again be trick or treating for their favorite candy. It’s one of the most fun nights of the year. Far away from these ghoulish festivities is war-torn Iraq.
Children there love sweets too. Fajr is one of them. She is an Iraqi child who, along with her mother, fled the assault by ISIS on her hometown of Fallujah last year. They are among millions of displaced Iraqis who depend on the help of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) just to eat.
WFP provides Fajr and her mother with basic foods to get through these difficult times. The flour ration allows them to bake bread.
Fajr misses her sweets. She told the WFP that her favorite treat is the traditional Iraqi zlabiya, which is rings of fried batter with syrup as a topping.
When you are a displaced war victim, with little or no money, sweets are just a pleasant memory. They are happy just to get the most basic foods. As Fajr’s mother says, “I can still bake bread like I used to do back home.”
But for how long? The WFP, which depends on voluntary donations, is running out of funds for its numerous emergency operations. The wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and South Sudan are draining resources.
A WFP report on Iraq warns, “Unless USD 34 million is urgently secured, up to 2.2 million people are at risk of losing WFP food assistance in December.” Fajr and her mother might lose something as simple as bread, if the world does not scale up a wartime response to hunger.
During these months of festivities, from Halloween through Thanksgiving and the holidays, we need to remember the millions of hungry displaced civilians. They need food and basic supplies to survive. With that food is that glimmer of hope that peace will come soon.
WFP has set up a donation page for the Iraq emergency.