DUBAI, March 15 —Hunger and malnutrition are rising sharply in Syria and more than half its population is short of food after 12 years of war, economic pressures and last month’s earthquake, the World Food Programme said today.
“The situation is worse than ever in Syria, the United Nations agency’s Middle East director, Corrine Fleischer, told Reuters.
About 55 per cent of Syria’s population of some 12.1 million people are food insecure and a further 2.9 million are at risk of sliding into hunger, a WFP report said.
Data show malnutrition is rising and that stunting and maternal malnutrition rates are at unprecedented levels.
“We’re very, very concerned that hunger is on a steep rise in Syria,” Fleischer said.
An earthquake in February which killed at least 53,000 across Syria and Turkey came on top of social and economic hardship of 12 years of war and a weakening Syrian pound.
As agencies responded to the earthquake, the head of the WFP a month ago called on authorities in northwestern Syria, which is controlled by insurgents at war with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, to stop blocking access to the area.
Aid is currently reaching northwest Syria through three border crossings with Turkey.
“What we need is the internal crossing points to open. We are still negotiating this with the local authorities on the ground,” Fleischer said.
The WFP will have to drastically reduce the amount of people it helps from July if more donor funding does not come through, the agency has said. — Reuters