2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations says a record 12.4 million Syrians, nearly 60 percent of the population, are now food insecure.
According to this alarming new national data from WFP, in just over one year, an additional 4.5 million Syrians have become food insecure.
Consequently, this UN agency now requires an additional $375.3 million until July this year, to ensure continued assistance throughout Syria.
An economic crisis, job losses as a result of the killer and economic-strangulating COVID-19 pandemic, and soaring food prices have added to the plight of Syrians who have been displaced and worn down by a decade of conflict.
WFP Representative and Country Director in Syria, Sean O’Brien says, “the situation has never been worse. After ten years of conflict, Syrian families have exhausted their savings as they face a spiralling economic crisis.”
Basic foods to feed a family for a month – bread, rice, lentils and oil and sugar- now cost at least 120,000 Syrian Pounds ($234) which far exceeds the average salaries.
Adding, O’Brien says “it is alarming that a simple meal is beyond the reach of families across Syria, and this new data show humanitarian assistance is the difference between putting a meal on the table and going to bed hungry. Lifesaving support has never been so crucial.”
The 2020 Food Security and Livelihoods Assessment carried out by WFP and partners, also estimates the number of people who are severely food insecure – meaning they cannot survive without food assistance – has doubled in just one year to stand at 1.3 million people.
Unless urgent action is taken, an additional 1.8 million people are at risk of falling into severe food insecurity.
Over the last year food prices across Syria have soared, and the price of basic items has increased by 236 percent, just as the value of the Syrian Pound has plummeted. On average, the price of oil has increased from 1000 Syrian pounds in January 2020, to 5000 Syrian pounds in January 2021.
Parents now report making desperate decisions to survive, eating less food so they can feed their children, going into debt, and selling assets and livestock to generate an income.
In addition, close to 50% of the Syrian population report having lost one or more sources of income because of the economic downturn and the Covid19 pandemic.
Each month WFP provides lifesaving food assistance to almost five million of Syria’s most vulnerable people. For many, this is the only food they eat each month.
WFP is however, the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.