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Food Shortages, Hunger Growing in War-Torn Syria, Says WFP

Displaced Syrian children look out from their tents at Kelbit refugee camp, near the Syrian-Turkish border, in Idlib province, Syria, Jan. 17, 2018.

The World Food Program warns a growing number of civilians in war-torn Syria face food shortages at a time when many people are suffering from acute hunger.

The WFP warns Syria’s long-running civil war is pushing more and more people into hunger and misery. Against all the odds, the agency continues to deliver food to millions of people in besieged and hard to reach areas; but, WFP spokeswoman Bettina Luescher said these efforts are not enough.

“As you know, we are having a big operation in Syria,” said Luescher. “In December, we reached 3.1 million people in total; but, 6.5 million people are food insecure, 4 million people are at risk of becoming food insecure — more than double the number of the risk one year ago.”

Luescher said this situation will continue until this “horrendous war” as she put it, is brought to an end.

She said WFP is extremely concerned about the surge in violence in the besieged city of Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of the capital Damascus and in the governorate of Idlib in northwestern Syria.

Luescher said continued fighting and bombing in Eastern Ghouta have led to severe shortages of food, fuel and drinking water for its 400,000 inhabitants.

“We have seen many cases of severe malnutrition,” said Luescher. “Some of the people have been eating animal fodder and garbage … Many of the people are forced to live underground in their basements, with no means of obtaining food from markets or other services.”

Spokeswoman Luescher said intensified fighting in Idlib has forced 100,000 people to abandon their homes near the frontline. Unless aid reaches them, she warns many will have to live out in the open during the winter, with no shelter and little food.

Several days ago, Russian warplanes carried out airstrikes in Eastern Ghouta in support of Syria’s shelling of rebel strongholds in Eastern Ghouta. The rebel groups responded by attacking Russian targets in Syria. Russia supports the Syrian government.