WFP estimates that 12 million Syrians are now grappling with food insecurity. That is more than half the population and 51 percent more than in 2019.
Record highs of food prices, a fuel crisis, ongoing inflation, continuing conflict in some parts of the country, adverse weather and the war in Ukraine in early 2022 have taken a devastating toll on Syria’s most vulnerable. Local subsidy systems can no longer withstand the pressure and scores of people are being phased out from subsidy when they need it the most.
To sustain its food assistance despite funding shortfalls and supply chain disruptions, WFP was also forced to progressively reduce the size of its food rations. To cope, families have nothing left but to choose between food, school, medicine and fuel as they can’t afford them all. Early marriage and removing children from school also show signs of increasing.
WFP provides life-saving food assistance to 5.6 million people in Syria each month. This assistance supports families with food rations and / or value vouchers to buy food, provides schoolchildren across the country with healthy snacks, and prevents and treats malnutrition in mothers and children.
What the World Food Programme is doing to respond to the Syria emergency
WFP provides 5.6 million people in all 14 governorates with key foods to prevent them from slipping further into hunger. WFP distributes this food to some of the country’s most vulnerable families who have been affected by conflict, economic decline and climate change. WFP is scaling up its cash-based assistance where instead of a food ration, families receive a mix of key food commodities and cash assistance, to flexibly purchase their needs of food from a number of WFP-contracted retailers. This contributes to generating demand and job opportunities within the local market, and injects cash into the local economy.
WFP’s nutrition programme helps children to get the best possible start in life and supports pregnant and nursing mothers to fight and prevent malnutrition. WFP currently supports over 300,000 pregnant and nursing women and girls and children aged between 6 months and 2 years to access nutrient-rich foods and improve their diets across all 14 governorates in Syria. This includes supporting women with value vouchers to diversify their diets, improve vitamin and mineral intake, and meet their nutritional needs.
WFP provides fortified snacks, fresh meals and assistance through electronic vouchers to more than 460,000 students. This food is a key step towards helping students to improve their health and nutrition and motivates families to send children to school. The fresh school meals programme in Aleppo employs vulnerable women and provides them with training and an income so they can support their families and become financially independent.
Resilience and livelihoods
To support communities’ self-sufficiency beyond urgent assistance, WFP supports families across Syria to restore their livelihoods, improve their food security and enhance their resilience to future shocks. Through trainings and the rehabilitation of local infrastructure such as irrigation channels and bakeries, Syrian families will have the opportunities they need to remain on their farms, grow their own food and improve their incomes.
While a political solution is imperative, funding remains crucial to help people survive this unprecedented crisis, now exacerbated by a global food crisis. Even with the current reduced ration, which covers nearly half of what families need every month, WFP is facing a funding gap to sustain its live-saving operations in Syria. This might lead to a setback in WFP’s efforts towards achieving zero hunger.
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