Top 10 Facts About Hunger in SyriaThe crisis in Syria began in the March of 2011 when thousands of Syrians took to the streets protesting for a democratic government. Since then, there have been reports of horrific human rights violations. Syrians are either forced to live in fear or flee their country. Due to the political unrest and unfair treatment of Syrians, basic humanitarian needs such as food is not fulfilled. Hunger has increased dramatically in Syria and it is important for other nations to know the facts about hunger in Syria and realize the struggles and successes it experiences as a result of the hunger crisis.

Facts About Hunger in Syria

  1. One in three people is unable to meet their basic food needs because they live under the poverty line.
    Bread is the most basic food source in Syria, however, its prices have risen by 1000 percent in the most violent areas leaving thousands unable to provide for themselves or their families.
  2. Food production has decreased by 50 percent.
    Farmers were only able to plant wheat on an estimated 900,000 hectares of land in 2017 compared to 1.5 million hectares before 2011. This is a neverending cycle because farmers rely on the community to buy their produce in order to continue farming but when the community does not have money to buy food, there is a continuing lack thereof.
  3. More than 11 million Syrians have fled their homes seeking refuge.
    Constant displacement does not provide Syrians with food security. Being food secure is one of the most basic necessities but also somehow overlooked.
  4. Living under siege, 400,000 Syrians across Syria have little to no access to a food source.
    During a siege, all humanitarian resources are cut off from people thereby leaving them with no option but to starve to death or die of diseases without proper medical attention.
  5. Various food donation groups have been able to provide for certain besieged areas via airdrops.
    Although there are still more than 4.5 million people living in hard-to-reach zones throughout Syria, airdrops have been able to deliver food to approximately 4.2 million of those in need.
  6. The U.N. will need $ 3.2 billion to provide humanitarian assistance in Syria.
    After analyzing the number of refugees in need of humanitarian assistance in 2016, the U.N. was able to estimate the funds required to help the current refugees. However, this does not account for new refugees if the conflict continues.
  7. The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made it difficult to provide resources to Syrians.
    This group has created checkpoints and sealed off all roads into and out of besieged areas to prevent any aid from reaching the people located within.
  8. Before the crisis in 2011, Syria was a middle-income country; however, it now ranks as one of the poorest with one-third of the population living in poverty.
    This does not include refugees who sought shelter in neighboring countries but merely the remaining population living in Syria.
  9. Since the beginning of the Syrian war crisis, the World Food Programme (WFP) has donated more than $ 1.3 billion to support Syrian refugees.
    They do this by providing food rations, e-cards and vouchers to the Syrians who are in dire need of food and medical resources.
  10. For only one dollar, the WFP can feed a Syrian refugee for a day.
    When the cost of feeding refugees is so low, it is a wonder how we are still struggling to find ways to help them. This accentuates the necessity to donate anything, for every little bit counts.

There is still a long way to go for Syrian refugees, however, these top 10 facts about hunger in Syria highlight the good and the bad in this devastating crisis.

– Adrienne Tauscheck
Photo: Flickr

The World Food Programme announced that trucks carrying food for more than 40,000 people safely reached Madaya, Syria on Jan. 12, 2016.

Boxes of food containing rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, salt, sugar, canned food, beans and lentils came on what Madaya’s residents hope to be the first of many aid convoys according to the World Food Programme.

“You could see a mixture of hope in people’s eyes and disbelief that this thing was actually happening,” Pawel Krzysiek of the International Committee of the Red Cross told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Unfortunately, residents of Madaya have been suffering from starvation as aid had not reached the area since Oct. 18, 2015, according to CNN; however it is not for a lack of trying.

Yacoub El Hillo, U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Syria and Kevin Kennedy, regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria Crisis released a statement from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA) on Jan. 7, 2016 indicating that Madaya has been, “inaccessible since then despite numerous requests for access.”

The statement calls for unimpeded humanitarian access to reach those in need in hard-to-reach and besieged areas in Syria and claimed that the almost 42,000 people remaining in Madaya are at risk of further hunger and starvation.

“We do not want to see this as a one-off,” El Hillo told BBC News. “Ultimately the real solution to this predicament, to the plight of the people besieged in these towns, is for the siege to be lifted.”

World Food Programme Spokeswoman Abeer Etefa told CNN the recent convoy should sustain 40,000 for a month.

Oxfam America issued a press release on Jan. 11, 2016 expressing relief that aid was scheduled to reach those starving in Madaya, but warned that this may not be sufficient.

“Madaya is one of 15 areas across Syria under siege, with inhabitants restricted from leaving and aid workers blocked from bringing in food, medicine, fuel and other supplies,” according to Oxfam America’s press release. “People in these areas also desperately need assistance and protection, yet access to them keeps deteriorating.”

The World Food Programme reported that nutritional items from UNICEF, medical supplies from the World Health Organization (WHO) and items from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were delivered with their convoy.

The second aid convoy is reported to have reached Madaya on Jan. 14, 2016 according to BBC News.

Summer Jackson

Sources: BBC, CNN, Oxfam America, Relief Web, WFP, News Yahoo
Photo: Catch News

As fighting persists in Syria, life for the population remains a struggle and food security a challenge. Millions of people have been affected amid the escalating violence and the situation is rapidly deteriorating. The U.S. has announced a contribution of $65 million dollars to the World Food Program, which is operating within the Syrian borders.

The armed conflict in Syria, also called the Syrian Civil War, has been ongoing for years since unrest began in 2011. In the wake of the Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurred across the Arab world. What began as protests against the government gradually morphed into a rebellion after a violent military force used by President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

As of January 2015, the death toll in Syria had risen above 220,000 and approximately 6 million people have been displaced, cut off from basic human needs such as water, food and electricity.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is giving $65 million dollars to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to achieve their goal of providing food assistance to 4 million starving people inside the country and 1.6 million more in the neighboring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt.

In Syria, the WFP has been running dangerously low on funding but the money infusion from USAID will keep the WFP afloat and operating through November preventing what could have been a complete shutdown.

The U.S. being the biggest donor to the Syrian crisis has contributed more than $4 billion dollars overall, allowing millions of needy families within Syria and those affected outside access to food and clean water.

According to USAID, the U.S. has now given more than $1.2 billion to the WFP for its Syrian operations – including more than $530 million for operations inside Syria and more than $693 million for operations benefiting Syrian refugees.

Although USAID has donated billions to the WPF, the international community has for the most part dropped the ball, forcing the WFP to devalue their food vouchers by half to refugees and lowered the amount of food in monthly household parcels inside Syria. USAID and the WFP continues to reach out to other governments hoping to rally more support and pressure them to take more actions.

In a press release by USAID on Friday, July 31, 2015, Dina Esposito, Director of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace said, “we have heard tragic stories of hungry refugees returning to war-torn Syria and taking children out of school to beg.” He continued, “We hope this new funding will help mitigate such difficult choices and help Syrians as the winter months approach.”

In war torn Syria, families are fleeing what were once their homes, desperately seeking safety. Starving and suffering from illness, people are getting life-saving food, water and medical care, thanks to the WFP and the disaster averting financial rescue from USAID.

Jason Zimmerman

Sources: USAID, Reuters
Photo: Huffington Post


After years of stalled negotiations, eight international aid organizations have finally been granted legal status in Turkey. The decision, announced in the days leading up to Turkey’s parliamentary elections last month, will allow the NGOs to more efficiently conduct humanitarian work in neighboring Syria.

The international NGOs, including the Norwegian Refugee Council and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), provide assistance to Syrians affected by the ongoing civil war. The groups distribute much-needed food, water, medical aid and housing materials. With Turkish legal status, aid workers can more easily cross the border into Syria.

Most NGOs working in Syria have their offices “for legal and security reasons” inside the southern Turkish border. For many of these organizations, bureaucratic technicalities have slowed the registration process. MSF says that the Turkish government took eight years to review its application.

Tensions between the government and rival parties could also be to blame for the delays. MSF representative Aitor Zabalgogeazkoa explains, “We’ve been perceived as supporting the Kurdish agenda, for working in the southeast, but we simply worked there because more difficult displacements were happening in the east of the country.”

A Turkish government official reported that 42 international NGOs working in Syria are now legally registered in Turkey. Organization leaders hope that the recent changes will lead to improved relations with Turkish authorities.

Legal recognition ensures that the NGOs receive tax bonuses and waived export fees for goods bought in Turkey. It also allows the groups to more easily rent office space and handle bank transactions.

The newly registered NGOs will also be cleared to work, for the first time, with Turkey’s rapidly growing refugee population. As the civil war in Syria drags on, the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey is expected to reach two million by the end of the year.

The international humanitarian community has praised the recognition of the eight NGOs as a “step in the right direction” for Turkey. Many believe that the announcement signals a change in Turkey’s management of the humanitarian crisis.

The NGO decision comes at a transitional time for Turkish politics. In the recent general elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 13 years. The loss has effectively destroyed the president’s attempts to amend the constitution and expand his executive powers. In the coming weeks, his party will attempt to form a coalition government.

Despite President Erdoğan’s seemingly autocratic tendencies, the AKP has been the most pro-refugee of the four parties in parliament. While in power, the AKP has spent close to $6 billion accommodating the Syrian refugees. However, the president’s “open door policy” for Syrians has become increasingly unpopular as Turkey’s economy has declined. Some anti-Syrian demonstrations have even turned violent, with Turks attacking refugees with knives and sticks.

While the Syrian refugees could not vote in last month’s elections, they have a lot riding on the impending government changes. Experts say that the turning tide of public opinion will likely force the new government to tighten restrictions on the Syrians.

Caitlin Harrison

Sources: Vice News, IRIN News, IRIN News 2, The Guardian
Photo: IRIN News

The United Nations Security Council came together for the first time regarding humanitarian aid access in Syria. A resolution passed by the UNSC on February 24 mandates that both the Syrian government and opposition must allow for aid convoys to get through to civilians throughout the country.

This resolution comes after at least one year of Security Council contemplation on the topic of increased humanitarian aid access in Syria; there were also months of subsequent talks on the subject. A non-binding statement released on October 2, 2013 urged improved access to aid, but to little avail.

Though some criticize the resolution for a failure to threaten sanctions if for some reason the parties do not meet the terms, unanimous approval was attained by removing the clause that previously referenced sanctions. Russia and China vetoed three similar resolutions in the past yet voted in favor this time around.

U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia backed his approval, stating that “many Russian considerations were borne in mind and as a result the document took on a balanced nature.” Likewise, China expressed its concern for the situation in Syria and emphasized the necessity to carry out the resolution accordingly.

Russia’s compliance is considered extremely important, as proper implementation of the resolution will likely present some difficulties. By using its leverage over the Syrian government, Russia can be an exceptional asset to the document’s success.

In addition to demanding access for aid convoys across borders, the resolution denounces barrel bombs and requires a cessation of sieges countrywide. The resolution was drafted by Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg and its unanimous approval is considered a “moment of hope” for the Syrian people by Lithuanian U.N. Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite.

At present, the UNSC has taken on five resolutions as a result of the conflict in Syria. In addition to the aid access resolution, a resolution was adopted in 2013 regarding the eradication of chemical weapons in the country; 2012 saw three resolutions for a U.N. observer mission to Syria.

While unanimous approval in the Security Council on any matter is exciting, some find the necessity for this particular resolution disheartening. According to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, humanitarian aid access should not need to be negotiated.

– Jaclyn Stutz

Sources: BBC, Reuters
Photo: Ebru News