According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 815 million people are undernourished worldwide. Of these 815 million individuals, 6.5 million (33 percent of the population) are facing food insecurity or lack reliable access to nutritious food in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Since 2011, the Syrian Civil War has caused the country’s starvation rate to double. Although various organizations continue to provide food and aid, militias prevent organizations from reaching those who need it most. Other chief contributors resulting from the war include increasing poverty rates and population displacement. To date, over four million people with over 2 million of them being children, are unable to purchase a sufficient supply of food.
Top 10 Facts about Hunger in the Syrian Arab Republic
- Various military actors in the war have purposefully starved Syrian civilians. The effects have disproportionately harmed vulnerable individuals such as children, the elderly and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Since militias have been using aid as a political tool, aid workers find it difficult to provide food for the hungry in conflict zones. In March 2018, Human Appeal, a humanitarian aid charity in the U.K., called on the International Criminal Court to start prosecuting those who deliberately starve civilians.
- A lack of security, employment opportunities and basic services have led to the world’s largest displacement crisis. In Syria, 6.3 million people are displaced while 5.3 million have taken refuge in nearby countries. While over 720,000 Syrians have returned, new displacements have arisen in northeast Syria, Hama, Aleppo and Idleb Governorates.
- The recent conflict in Syria has damaged the economy and pushed almost seven million people into poverty, according to the U.N. Of Syria’s population, 82.5 percent is below the poverty line while 50 percent is unemployed. Additionally, 40 percent of families report they do not have enough food.
- When food does become available, Syrians put themselves at risk when attempting to obtain it. According to the Save the Children Federation, there are various reports of individuals being targeted while shopping at supermarkets and local markets. Amjad, a Syrian resident, said: “The shelling happened every day…it was not always day or night, you never knew when it would happen. The clashes between the armed groups would happen all the time, too; shooting everywhere. It was impossible to go and find food.”
- Most food shortages have been caused by a significant increase in food prices. The price of some of the most essential food items has increased by 100 percent in recent years. Many families have become impoverished by conflict and are unable to cope. An estimated 50 percent of households have reduced their intake of daily meals and 30 percent of adults are prioritizing children by limiting their consumption.
- Breastfeeding mothers and babies who are not breastfed in Syria do not receive the support necessary to ensure proper nourishment for development. This puts Syrian children at risk of dying from a lack of sufficient nutrients, developing malnutrition and having limited access to medical professionals who are familiar with treating malnutrition. Without nutrients, children are also at a higher risk of getting a disease, especially with Syria’s shortage of clean water.
- Prior to the conflict, agriculture was the main sector of Syria’s economy and contributed 18 percent to the GDP. Since the start of the war, agriculture and infrastructure have collapsed, costing over $16 billion in damages and loss. Despite an increase in wheat production and access to farmland, crops fail to sell due to high costs.
- The increase in violence, road closures and proliferation checkpoints has hindered humanitarian organizations’ ability to reach various parts of the country. This limits the United Nations to only providing aid in areas not impacted by conflict. Due to these restrictions, only half of 2.4 million civilians in Aleppo, Syria received humanitarian aid in 2013. Additionally, territories controlled by the government do not always allow aid workers to access civilians despite the need.
- Rise Against Hunger is an organization that utilizes volunteers in their mission to end world hunger. Volunteers package numerous meals that are packed with nutrients to nourish the world’s hungry. Rise Against Hunger has served and provided the Syrian Arab Republic with almost 550,000 meals.
- The World Food Programme (WFP) is responding to Syria’s food crisis in various ways. WFP provides over four million people with monthly food rations and over 900 schools in Syria with nutritious snacks. WFP also offers nutrition support to mothers, breastfeeding mothers and children.
The developing country of the Syrian Arab Republic is still enduring food insecurity and a lack of humanitarian aid. The majority of the population is facing various consequences of the Syrian Civil War, making it difficult to improve their livelihoods and find food. These top 10 facts about hunger in the Syrian Arab Republic highlight the need for crucial humanitarian aid.
– Diane Adame