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2021 in photos: People at the heart of one of Syria’s toughest years

As more Syrians than ever before wondered how they would make it through each day with empty refrigerators, shrinking portions and markets full of produce they could no longer afford, the World Food Programme reached 5.7 million people with food assistance
, Jessica Lawson
Two boys collect fresh bread for their families at a bakery rehabilitated by WFP in Aleppo. Photo: WFP/Jessica Lawson

On the eve of the 10-year mark of the Syria crisis in March, data from the World Food Programme (WFP) revealed that already high levels of food insecurity had dramatically increased. In just one year, an additional 4.5 million Syrians were now food insecure, bringing the total to a staggering 12.4 million people – the highest number ever recorded.

Nour missed years of school during the conflict in Aleppo. Now she’s back in the classroom and her family receives a monthly electronic voucher from WFP to buy the food they need. Photo: WFP/Marco Frattini

After a decade of conflict, life was harder than ever before for the majority of Syrian families. In 2021, 6.8 million people were internally displaced and left struggling to rebuild their lives after years of tragedy, uncertainty and unimaginable loss.

Woman and children in Syria
Two-year-old Siba from Tartous was recently diagnosed with malnutrition. She now receives nutritious food from WFP each month, is gaining weight and getting the vitamins and minerals she needs. Photo: WFP/Hussam Al Saleh
A farmer collects olives from her tree in Maskaneh Sharq, Aleppo. Her family now has access to water after WFP rehabilitated irrigation canals. Photo: WFP/Marco Frattini

At a time when they were hoping for peace, many families have exhausted their savings and are unable to cope with the economic crisis. Throughout the year, basic food items – including bread, lentils and rice – became more expensive than ever before. At the same time, the value of the Syrian pound dropped. Families were unable to keep up.

A boy in Busra Dara receives food from WFP and soap from UNICEF. Both organizations worked together to support families during COVID-19. Photo: WFP/Hussam Alsaleh

To support them, WFP scaled up to provide lifesaving food to an additional one million people from August onwards. Today, 5.7 million people across all 14 governates receive support from WFP each month. These are families who are unable to prepare even a basic meal and cannot afford nutritious food for their children. In 2021, WFP provided school meals and snacks to students, nutrition support to pregnant and nursing mothers and children, and helped families across the country to boost their livelihoods and resilience.

These girls in Aleppo are some of the approximately 481,000 students across Syria who eat a healthy snack at school. These snacks, fortified with vitamins and minerals, help children to concentrate in class and for many it’s their first meal of the day. Photo: WFP/Photo Library

From medical clinics to classrooms to kitchen tables, WFP delivered food to the people who needed it the most. In the midst of COVID-19, WFP staff  have travelled across the country to make sure that more families than ever before can access the food they need. 

Internally displaced people are especially vulnerable and require ongoing humanitarian assistance. These children were displaced by conflict in 2020 and food from WFP is critical for them to meet their basic needs while their family rebuilds their life. Photo: WFP/Photo Library

Looking ahead to 2022, huge challenges remain. When WFP’s Executive Director David Beasley visited Syria in November, he said: “Mothers are telling me that with the upcoming winter they are caught between a rock and a hard place. They either feed their children, and let them freeze, or keep them warm and let them go hungry. They cannot afford both fuel and food.”

WFP Field Monitor Sobhi Fallouh meets with a participant at one of WFP’s kitchen garden projects in Swaida. Through this project, families receive support to grow their own food close to home. Photo: WFP/Hussam Alsaleh
Mother-of-six Mu’azzaz says she was displaced several times during the conflict. Her family now lives in Aleppo with no electricity and barely any furniture. Photo: WFP/Marco Frattini

But at the same time, in Syria there are always moments where people’s determination will never cease to amaze; parents who talk proudly about their children recovering from malnutrition, farmers who are rebuilding their livelihoods and their sources of food, teachers who make sure all of their students arrive at school each day and eat a healthy snack in class.  

One-year-old Tara from Latakia was malnourished from birth. After receiving treatment from WFP she’s putting on weight and gaining strength. Photo: WFP/Hussam Alsaleh

The 5.7 million people who receive food and support from WFP are one step closer to fighting hunger and food insecurity.

WFP’s work in Syria is made possible thanks to generous support from our top five donors, including the USA, Germany, Canada, Japan and Norway.
WFP requires US$527.8 million in funding before May 2022 to ensure that families can continue to receive lifesaving assistance

Learn more about WFP's work in Syria and click here to  donate

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