How Conflict Fuels Poverty in Syria The Syrian conflict, now stretching into its second decade, has profoundly reshaped the nation’s socio-economic landscape. As the fighting persists, the humanitarian and economic toll intensifies, creating a vicious cycle of poverty in Syria.

Destruction of Infrastructure

Destruction of infrastructure is one of the most immediate and visible widespread consequences of the Syrian conflict. Attacks on various types of infrastructure, including public, private and health care facilities, remain largely unaccounted for. Bombings, artillery fire and ground battles have reduced cities to rubble, destroying homes, schools, hospitals and utilities. With basic infrastructure demolished, economic activities stall. Factories, farms and businesses cannot operate effectively, resulting in significant productivity losses. The lack of electricity, clean water and transportation further hampers efforts to resume normal economic functions, exacerbating poverty in Syria.

Displacement and Loss of Livelihoods

The crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic has displaced more than 12 million people across the region, with 6 million Syrians finding refuge in Egypt, Türkiye, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. Displacement uproots families from their homes and communities, stripping them of their assets and means of income. In displacement camps and host communities, refugees face high unemployment levels. Competition for scarce resources and jobs often results in lower wages and poor working conditions. For those attempting to rebuild their lives, limited access to employment, education and health care perpetuates a cycle of poverty in Syria that is difficult to break.

Health Crisis

Almost a quarter of Syria’s hospitals are nonfunctional and cannot meet the growing health needs. More than 12.2 million people urgently need health assistance, but a shortage of workers and health care infrastructure has led to the collapse of the health care system. This collapse exacerbates poverty by increasing disease and disability burdens. Families must spend limited resources on medical care, often sacrificing other basic needs such as food and shelter. Chronic illnesses and untreated injuries impair individuals’ ability to work, further reducing household incomes and deepening poverty in Syria.

Education Disruption

The war in Syria has severely disrupted the education system, with many schools damaged, destroyed or repurposed as shelters for displaced people. This crisis has left more than 7,000 schools destroyed and resulted in two million children being out of education. A generation of children in Syria is growing up without ever having enrolled in school or received a proper education. To make ends meet, families often rely on child labor, pulling children out of school to work. This not only deprives children of their childhood but also limits their future economic prospects, perpetuating poverty in Syria.

Efforts by UNICEF and OXFAM

Efforts are underway to reverse the cycle of poverty in Syria. UNICEF is addressing this crisis by investing in climate-resilient technologies and systems, promoting learning, rehabilitating schools and scaling up unconditional cash transfers. In addition, OXFAM works across eight of 14 Syria governorates, providing clean water, distributing hygiene kits, promoting good hygiene practices in schools and giving families cash and food to meet their urgent needs.

Looking Ahead

The ongoing conflict in Syria has deeply entrenched poverty, disrupting infrastructure, displacing millions and collapsing essential services such as health care and education. Organizations like UNICEF and OXFAM are actively working to mitigate the crisis by providing crucial resources, rehabilitating schools and supporting basic needs. Despite the significant challenges, these ongoing efforts offer a pathway toward alleviating the severe economic and social impacts on the Syrian population, highlighting the critical importance of sustained international support.

– Rika Mokal

Rika is based in London, UK and focuses on Global Health for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Pixabay

KSRelief-WHO Funding Agreement for Sudan, Syria and Yemen Ongoing conflicts in Sudan, Syria and Yemen have devastated public health institutions and affected millions. In Sudan, more than two-thirds of main hospitals are out of service, leaving 11 million people in need of urgent health care since April 2023. Syria faces a similar crisis, with more than 12.2 million people needing immediate medical attention due to inadequate health facility services. In Yemen, about 46% of health facilities are nonfunctional or partially operational, affecting 21.6 million people, at least two-thirds of the population. In response, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) is actively providing crucial support and resources to address these health care challenges.

International Aid and Collaboration

On May 25, 2024, KSRelief signed an agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) to fund WHO’s critical health response operations in Sudan, Syria and Yemen to the amount of $19.4 million. Before signing the funding agreement, both organizations worked extensively to alleviate the pain the people in Sudan, Syria and Yemen endured.

At Jordan’s Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees, KSRelief has been operating medical clinics where doctors have provided health care assistance, including treatment for sinus and middle ear infections, to 2,349 Syrian patients. Similarly, WHO has been reinforcing disease surveillance in Sudan and Yemen to help countries such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia respond effectively to the health crises in these countries. KSRelief’s funding support to WHO’s critical health operations in Sudan, Syria and Yemen facilitates medical care on the ground.

Funding Dialysis Treatments in Sudan

KSRelief’s efforts includes providing $5 million to supply 100 dialysis machines and strengthen dialysis centers in Sudan. Currently, 77 renal dialysis centers in Sudan are only partially functioning and cannot provide life-saving dialysis treatment for the Sudanese people. According to the International Society of Nephrology, there are approximately 8,000 Sudanese people and more who have been relying on dialysis to stay alive since the conflict started. 

Healing Syria After the Earthquakes

On Feb. 6, 2023, a devastating earthquake in Syria destroyed many buildings, including essential hospitals and health clinics, affecting 8.8 million Syrians and resulting in the deaths of 5,954 Syrians. KSRelief supported WHO with a $4.75 million contribution to provide necessary medications and supplies to around 350,000 Syrians in need urgent health care. The funds allocated to Syria will also help WHO restore diagnostic capacity and ambulance services, assisting an estimated 4.1 million Syrians.

Countering Disease Outbreaks in Yemen

KSRelief is providing $9.5 million to support WHO’s operations in Yemen, focusing on strengthening responses to disease outbreaks like cholera and measles. Yemen currently faces over 40,000 suspected cholera cases and more than 34,000 cases of measles and rubella as of August 31, 2023. This funding also aims to help WHO enhance health care facilities in Yemen by improving their sanitation and hygiene services, thereby boosting their capacity to tackle disease outbreaks. These ongoing efforts are expected to benefit approximately 12.9 million Yemenis in urgent need of care due to the public health crisis.

Multilateral Collaboration to Address Critical Health Issues

KSRelief’s critical financial support to WHO’s health operations aims to ensure the safety of Sudanese, Syrian and Yemeni people who dream of a stable and secure future. The ongoing efforts highlight the impact multilateral collaboration between countries and organizations could have in addressing global health issues.

– Abdullah Dowaihy

Abdullah is based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and focuses on Good News and Global Health for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Flickr

Children in SyriaFor a little more than a decade, the children of Syria have continued to bear the blows of the country’s socioeconomic and political crisis. In 2022, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that around 2.4 million Syrian children no longer attend school, while an additional 1.6 million children were tethering with the idea of dropping out. The lack of adequate funding from the Syrian government has only worsened this epidemic since the national budget for education dropped from 7.1% in 2021 to 3.6% in 2022. Poverty within the family unit thus forces all members to become active contributors, children included.

Children Bear the Burden

Syria remains a country deeply devastated by the ravages of war, with more than 90% of its population living in poverty. A study conducted in 2022 by UNICEF concluded that an estimated 14.6 million Syrian civilians were in need of humanitarian aid. The most affected of this group of individuals was children, with more than 6.5 million in need of assistance.

Syrian children bear the burden of the conflict as many are forcibly pulled from school and thrust into the labor force in an attempt to salvage their family’s crumbling economic state. The Syrian Response Coordination Group detailed that child labor remains an ongoing issue in Syria, specifically among the displaced. The group reported that more than 37% of children between the ages of 14 and 17 are active participants in the labor force.

The humanitarian group also reveals that of the 85% of Syrian children who no longer attend school, 318,000 sought work. Though the exact professions vary, some include physically compromising trades. Young boys occupy positions in these dangerous trades, while young girls tend to take up work in agricultural fields. Bassel Muhammad, a shopkeeper in Idlib City, tells Syria Direct, “No business is empty of children, to say nothing of street vendors.” Muhammad then shares that he has employed two children, one 13 and the other 15, both of whom have left school to provide for their families.

A Changed Generation

Though child poverty persists in Syria, various initiatives have been taken to combat it. In 2013, UNICEF and World Vision joined forces to create No Lost Generation, a program that campaigns for the rights of Syrian youth. With the financial support of various donors, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and United Nations (U.N.) agencies, the initiative focuses on education and child protection.

Another initiative advocating for the rights of Syrian children is Mart Team, a Damascus-based charity. Through its campaign “Aqlamouna Amalouna,” meaning “Hope in our pens,” the charity aims to provide aid to students in need. In an interview conducted by Arab News, Marwan Alrez, the General Manager of Mart Team, states, “Parents have told us that schools demand hefty fees, prompting many of them to remove their children from school and force them into the labor market in order to contribute to household earnings.”

Alrez reveals that the average cost of school supplies for a single student is around 200,000 Syrian pounds, an estimated equivalent of $16. This places a great strain on the average Syrian household since many employed individuals only earn 185,940 Syrian pounds (about $14.8) monthly. Alrez’s charity initiative has helped an estimated 300 primary students meet their needs, whether for school supplies or school fees.

World Vision has also focused on the cause of Syrian children and developed six educational-based projects. These projects provide children in need with lunches, hygiene packages and school supplies. Furthermore, the Syrian government has noted this growing issue and has asked that schools be more lenient with their demands, whether regarding uniform policies or certain school supplies.

Final Remark

Adele Khor, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, proclaims, “A generation of children in Syria have already paid an unbearable price for this conflict.” Despite all of the admirable efforts from various groups, the Syrian children’s plight remains an issue. 

– Yasmine Nowroozi

Yasmine is based in Laval, Quebec, Canada and focuses on Global Health and Politics for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in SyriaWith more than 90% of Syria living in extreme poverty, it is no surprise that access to menstrual products is now deemed as a luxury in the country. 12 years ago,  incessant corruption, sectarian bias directed towards Alawites, bribery and bureaucracy among others threw Syria into war. The effect involves everything from hunger and anxiety to severe hardship. Additionally, many women experience period poverty, with limited access to menstrual products.

The Crux

Period poverty, according to Medical News Today, is the lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management or a combination of these. It impacts approximately 500 million people worldwide. With part of the country still under siege and other parts submerged by an earthquake, women in Syria are facing period poverty and at an alarming rate.

Amid the ongoing war, prices of food and other necessities in Syria have skyrocketed leading to a high cost of living. Pads that were sold for between 15 and 25 Syrian pounds now cost 2,500 to 4,000 pounds.

Relief items sent by donors, rarely however, contain products for menstruation. These gender-blind responses discriminate against women as other items including food, clothing and shelter are deemed more important than menstrual products. These and other factors have led to period poverty in Syria.

A Helping Hand

Utopia, an NGO made up of women started making hand-sewn pads to cater for the gap in the market as a result of the war. Within the one hour of constant electricity supplied by the government as a result of the country’s war-ravaged power plants followed by a five hour power cut, the small team makes a little over 20 reusable, economical and eco-friendly pads. The organization has been able to sell/donate around 370 pads and 900 diapers for the aged and babies.

To combat period poverty in Syria, Utopia sells the pads at the manufacturing cost of 1,000 pounds per pad. The NGO used to provide food, drugs and financial assistance to needy students but had to include pad production as a result of the changing times and its impact on Syrian women.

Local NGO, Arab Women’s Society, has partnered with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the Syria Trust for Development to provide hygiene kits, including menstrual pads, to families in the vicinity. The society and its partners distribute period products and hygiene kits to 1,200 women in rural parts of Deir Ezzor, three times a month.

Founded by Evelina Llewelly, the period poverty-fighting organization, Jeyetna, based in Lebanon collects donations in cash and in-kind and gives them out to individuals on the ground.

The organization, which makes combatting period poverty in Syria and eliminating the stigma around periods their aim said in an interview with Alarabiya News, In the case of natural disasters, period poverty worsens due to the gender-blind prioritization of other needs perceived as more essential like shelter, food, and water.”

A Look Ahead

Periods do not stop during war or earthquakes. It is commendable that these local NGOs are doing all within their power to help eliminate period poverty in Syria with scanty resources during these trying times. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others.

Yet, it goes without saying that more could be done to alleviate this situation bedeviling Syrian women. 

– Angela A. Darkwah
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Syria
The destruction from war drills deep scars on the hearts of people and economic infrastructure. As the front lines of Syria saw the year-long resilience ceasing, a new battle is seeing rise. Currently, 90% of people in Syria live in extreme poverty. The basic resources are scarcely available and starvation looms with high prices and food shortage. Families are skipping meals in order to survive. According to the United Nations (U.N.), more than 15 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance in 2023.

The Impact on Children 

Gunsmoke constantly surrounds children in Syria. The long years of conflict have left many children with the loss of guardians, friends and innocence. Further, the psychological effect of the continuous dispute and loss suffered will remain unknown.

Education remains the least of the concerns in war-stricken Syria. Half of the million school-aged children are deprived of schooling. Instead, they are hurled into child labor or recruited for fighting. The near-destruction of houses in buildings has left no room for educational institutions. Children have completely lost track of their studies and are most likely to drop out completely. Unfortunately, this creates the risk of poverty and despair for future generations.

Psychological Impact on Citizens

The widespread poverty and limited sources of income have pushed the people into an exasperated state. Moreover, many families have lost an earning member of the family. The continuing conflict in Syria has tragically led to the loss of more than 306,000 civilian lives, representing approximately 1.5% of the population that existed before the conflict began.

Adding to the losses and the crippling poverty is the damaging mental health which has driven up to 50 cases of suicide and more, as recorded in Syrian government files. 

The Syrian Refugee Crisis

The crisis traces back to 2011 and has come down to the displacement of 6.8 million Syrians seeking shelter in their own homes. Most refugees are found in countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq. Still, 70% of refugees live in extreme poverty with the absence of basic supplies.

A Helping Hand in an Hour of Trouble

Investing or starting a business suffers heavy losses in Syria due to disruption and shortage of resources. With poverty taking its toll, humanitarian assistance seems the only way to stabilize the economy. According to the World Bank, Syria’s GDP could drop by 3.2% in 2023. 

The humanitarian assistance has provided some relief to poverty in Syria. There have been local NGOs that have provided the necessary help and above all UNICEF has worked to improve the basic areas like the water supply system which is cost-effective and climate-friendly, providing a limited supply of electricity and providing nutrient-rich diets and education to children. 

– Asra Mairaj
Photo: Pexels

Poverty in SyriaSyria has been a center of conflict for years, and with so much unrest, poverty in Syria is an unfortunate given. War has torn the country apart and citizens are paying the price. The percentage of Syrians living in poverty sits at an astounding 80%. The war in Syria has destroyed much of its wealth, infrastructure and workforce. From the beginning of the conflict in 2011 to 2014, the unemployment rate rose by 42.8%, leaving as many as three million Syrians jobless.

It is unsurprising then, that with poverty this severe, many citizens are attempting to escape. After four years of war in Syria, the country’s population has declined by 15%. Syria is second only to Palestine when it comes to emigrating refugees, with as many as 6.8 million fleeing the country. More than three million Syrians have fled to Turkey as it shares a border with Syria. However, there are organizations and foreign governments working to remedy this issue and aid these citizens in their escape from violence and poverty in Syria, including Paper Airplanes.

Humanitarian Aid

Paper Airplanes is a non-governmental organization (NGO)  that teaches refugees English and other skills to help them thrive in places where they have relocated. While poverty in Syria has caused many to become refugees, Paper Airplanes has risen to the challenge of educating these people in order to give them a chance at a better life. Bailey Ulbricht founded Paper Airplanes in 2014 after tutoring some students she met in Syria. Ulbricht then got some people to volunteer and the organization has grown since then with the goal of giving refugees the opportunity to continue their education.

So far, Paper Airplanes has been able to work with 2,411 students. More than three-fourths of the students finish a minimum of one semester. The organization offers several different programs to increase its students’ likelihood of getting a better job and of being able to pursue more advanced education. Refugees from Syria can choose to participate in one or many of its programs. Programs include:

  • English Program – English speakers tutor a refugee in the English language over the internet

  • Women in Tech – women are taught coding

  • Citizen Journalism – students are taught how to write strong articles and have them published

  • Turkish – Since many Syrians often find safe haven in Turkey, students can enroll in this program to help them adjust to their new environment

  • Youth Exchange – similar to the English Program, but with high school English tutors

  • Student Advising – volunteers help students with things like their resumes or scholarship applications

Tutoring with Paper Airplanes

This author had the opportunity to partner with Paper Planes for one month in July, working a few hours a week with a student. The student’s willingness to learn was inspiring. The orientation process thoroughly prepares the tutor for tutoring a refugee over Skype and the staff is extremely helpful and supportive. Tutoring a student in English when one has little to no experience can be daunting, but the staff at Paper Airplanes makes people feel very prepared while also allowing them to tailor the semester’s curriculum to the students’ needs.

It is inspiring to see people taking initiative and truly enjoying helping people to better their lives and the lives of their families. While hearing about how so many people go hungry and are affected by poverty, hearing what is solving those tragedies and healing people gives people hope for the future and makes them not only want to be a part of it but to bring it about. Hope truly does inspire people greater than sorrow and fear.

Looking Forward

The extreme poverty in Syria along with the crisis has caused many of its citizens to flee and seek shelter elsewhere. Amid all of the horrors, cultural shock and trauma, some individuals and organizations answered their cry for help. Paper Airplanes gives refugees the tools that they need to succeed, educating and therefore empowering them for their future. Paper Airplanes understands that when you educate refugees, the impact goes far beyond individual students. It sets up the next generation to succeed.

Moriah Thomas
Photo: Flickr

Child Soldiers in Syria
Since 2011, war has ravaged Syria and drastically changed the lives of millions, especially for children. An estimated 2.6 million Syrian children now live in other nations as refugees. More than one million of the refugee children do not have access to education, and an additional 1.75 million children who remain in Syria also do not attend school. Millions of Syrian children live in extreme poverty, which drives them to become soldiers in an extremely dangerous conflict.

The Recruitment of Child Soldiers in Syria

The recruitment of children under the age of 18 by armed groups has been rising in Syria as the war continues. In 2016 alone, 851 children were recruited to be child soldiers in Syria. In that same year, 652 children died and 647 were maimed, and these numbers are rapidly rising. In January and February of 2018, 1,000 children were killed or injured in the Syrian conflict.

Some of these child soldiers have been kidnapped by armed groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS). Others are young Arabs or Muslims from Europe who have been convinced by radical groups like ISIS to leave their homes and join the fight against the Syrian government. Many, however, are children in Syria or in refugee camps in neighboring countries who have volunteered to become soldiers.

Syrian children often volunteer to become soldiers because of the dire situations in which their families live, situations caused by the war. By 2015, 80 percent of Syria’s population lived below the poverty line, and the situation has continued to worsen. With the unemployment rate in the country at 57.7 percent at the beginning of 2015, millions are struggling to survive. In addition, more than 90 percent of refugee families in Lebanon are at risk of food insecurity, and 80 percent in Jordan live in poverty.

For these families that are struggling to survive, the benefits that armed groups offer child soldiers in Syria can be life-saving. Some parents believe their only option is to send their children to fight for ISIS or ISIS-affiliated groups in return for financial subsidies. Other children join the Free Syrian Army (FSA), one of the main rebel groups fighting the Syrian government. The FSA provides its fighters with monthly benefits including salaries. Additionally, the FSA offers refugees in the Zaatari refugee camp precedence in receiving food aid and cash assistance that are crucial to their survival.

Providing a Solution

Alleviating Syrian poverty could be a crucial step in reducing the number of child soldiers in Syria. This could be done by providing Syrians with humanitarian aid, like helping them get food and homes and jobs. Children will be less vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups if they and their families are living in more stable situations.

The United States is mobilizing humanitarian aid to provide food, water, education and medical services to Syrian children and their families. International aid and the acceptance of refugees are also key. However, the “humanitarian needs inside Syria continue to outpace the international response.” Increased aid from the U.S. and other nations is key to relieving poverty in Syria and surrounding nations and reducing the number of children that are recruited to be soldiers.

– Laura Turner
Photo: Flickr

seven facts about the poverty crisis in SyriaSyria’s economy was once promising, and the nation even functioned as a resettlement country for refugees. However, the past seven years of war have disrupted economic activity and shaped Syria into one of the worst the humanitarian and economic catastrophes of the present time. As of 2018, the conflict is still continuous with no predicted end in sight. Below are seven facts about the poverty crisis in Syria and how the current war has contributed to the country’s extremely poor state.

Seven Facts About the Poverty Crisis in Syria

  1. The war isn’t over, and casualties are increasing on a daily basis.
    Since the Syrian Civil War in 2011, around half a million people have been killed. President Bashar al-Assad and government forces are carrying out chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin gas, in an attack against civilians. Right now, some of the worst violence is intensifying each day in Eastern Ghouta, located just 10 kilometers east of the capital Damascus. More than 600 residents are believed to have been killed and at least 2,000 injured since President Assad’s forces launched an air and ground invasion on February 18.
  1. Access to basic necessities in war-stricken areas is scarce.
    Civilians of the Eastern Ghouta area have limited or no access to food, medicine or sanitary supplies. Access to adequate health care is severely restricted for an estimated 350,000 civilians trapped in the area as well. Eastern Ghouta now has just one doctor per 3,600 people; 75 percent of Syria’s doctors and medical personnel have fled the country
  1. Syria has the biggest internally displaced population in the world.
    Since the civil war began, more than six million people have fled their homes but have not crossed Syria’s borders to find safety. Approximately 6,550 Syrians are displaced each day and live in camps, informal settlements or abandoned buildings along the Turkish border in Northern Syria.
  1. Kids are at great risk.
    Before the war, Syria had an actively strong education system, with almost 100 percent primary school enrollment and 70 percent secondary school enrollment. However, today about 1.75 million Syrian children and youth do not have access to an education. More than a third of schools in Syria have been damaged, destroyed or are being used as shelters by internally displaced people, and hundreds of thousands of teachers and professors have fled the country. Additionally, Syria is enduring the worst outbreak of child malnutrition yet, where an estimated 1.7 million children and pregnant or lactating women have been screened for acute malnutrition.
  1. There is an extreme lack of clean water and sanitation.
    Safe drinking water and basic sanitation services are scarce due to damaged pumps and pipelines, which increases vulnerability to epidemic diseases. In some areas with the greatest refugee populations, the water supply has hit a low of 22 liters per person per day, which is less than one-tenth of what the average American uses.
  1. Syria is lacking in natural resources.
    Although the country does have some oil, the country is not as abundant as it used to be when oil production peaked at 677,000 barrels per day in 2002. Since the growth of the Syrian conflict in 2011 to today, barrel production has declined to about 25,000 per day. Also, the increased armed conflict has impacted Syria as an agricultural nation. The ongoing war has caused major destruction to agricultural production, resulting in more than $16 billion of lost crop and livestock production and destroyed farming resources.
  1. The economy has deeply collapsed.
    As these seven facts about the poverty crisis in Syria indicate, years of conflict has destroyed the country’s economy. Syria’s economy has declined more than 70 percent since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, and now the country has one of the world’s highest inflation rates. As of December 2017, the inflation rate in Syria was recorded at 43.2 percent and reached an all-time high of 121.29 percent in 2013. Additionally, over half the population is unemployed and 82.5 percent are living below the poverty line.

These seven facts about the poverty crisis in Syria allow for a better understanding of the harsh reality of the country’s current state. While it may be easy to become desensitized to the Syrian conflict, it is easy to help through donations or mobilization. Reputable charity organizations including UNHCR, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, the International Red Cross and Save the Children are all working to provide aid to the millions of Syrians affected by the war and poverty. Furthermore, taking action by emailing or writing to members of Congress and asking them to support aid to Syria is another way to help.

– Natalie Shaw

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Syria
In early June, Darayya, the rebel-held suburb of Damascus, received its first aid convoy in four years. While the delivery was invaluable to helping alleviate poverty in Syria. However, the U.N. was unable to send more than a month’s worth of medical supplies and food.

Reuters reports that the U.N. received permission for this exchange in March, but the Syrian government would not permit any more deliveries. They claimed that the rebels have plenty of supplies.

In addition, BBC reports that the population of Syria has dropped by at least 6.5 million in five years. Unfortunately, the war and poverty in Syria has led to this massive displacement and death. the BBC estimates that approximately 6 million people are refugees, and between 100-500 thousand are dead.

Those left behind face sieges, soaring food prices and decreased access to important institutions like hospitals or schools. Throughout the country, the civil war has left many.

At least 13.5 million of the 17.9 million people still in Syria desperately need assistance.

Another article from the BBC displays something even more harrowing. The names and dates of children killed in the war reel, one right after the other, across the screen.

The stories are short, similar and sobering: “Seta Naser al-Krad, a girl from Deraa, was shot and killed on 25 March 2011… Anas Muayad al-Wassa, a boy from Hama, was executed on 24 February 2012.” Underneath, the article states that over 19 hours would be required to read them all.

Currently, the population of Darayya—8,000 individuals—needs more food if they are going to outlast the siege. The government’s assurance that they have plenty does not match inhabitants’ reports. Constant bombardments and the long siege have destroyed a place once renowned for its grapes, apricots and olives.

Tales now range from kids growing ill from eating nothing but soup and salad to foraging for grass as rations dwindle.

One woman reports that her young grandson does not know what fruit is.

The U.N. has struggled to get aid to the rebels facing siege in Darayya. While they were able to gain permission for this convoy, the regime has been successful in blocking previous attempts.

Few rebels waited to receive the convoy. Syrians who did manage to receive aid were incredibly grateful.

Considering the obstacles, distributing medical supplies is a huge step for the U.N. and Darayya. The situation in Syria remains dire, but small successes such as this one make a large impact and will save hundreds of lives.

Jeanette Burke

Photo: Flickr