More Syrians than ever before in the grip of hunger and poverty
DAMASCUS – Syrians today face an unprecedented hunger crisis as the prices of basic foods reach levels unseen even at the height of the nine-year conflict and millions of people are pushed deeper into poverty, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said, on the eve of a donors pledging conference for Syria.
WFP estimates that 9.3 million Syrians are now food insecure – with an increase of 1.4 million in the last six months alone.
A devastating combination of an economic standstill, the freefall of the Lebanese economy - which is a vital bridge to Syria’s - and COVID-19 lockdown measures, has pushed food prices more than 200% higher in less than a year.
Food prices are 20 times higher than their pre-crisis levels, with the price of a basic food basket that cost 4,000 Syrian Pounds pre-conflict now 76,000 Syrian Pounds. Families have been forced to adopt desperate measures from cutting meals and reducing portions to selling assets and going deeper into debt.
“Families in Syria have already been through more than they can handle, they have exhausted their savings and often fled their homes and now face a downward spiral into poverty and hunger,” said WFP Country Director in Syria Corinne Fleischer. “They are running out of options.”
Each month WFP provides food assistance to 4.8 million vulnerable people across all 14 governates of Syria and supports mothers and young children to improve their nutrition, while also providing school meals and snacks to students and helping families to restore their livelihoods.
WFP urgently requires US$200 million to continue to provide food assistance in Syria until the end of the year. Unless new funding is available by August, WFP will be forced to drastically cut rations as well as the number of people reached with food as of October 2020.
“Food from WFP is a life-line for families who have lost everything; their homes, their jobs and the ability to feed their families,” said Fleischer. “We are grateful to our donors in Syria, but the needs have never been greater, and we cannot let the Syrian people down now,” says Fleischer.
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