The UN World Food Programme (WFP), in a report released yesterday, says it has reached less than half of the three million Syrians it planned to feed this month. WFP is the lead agency in fighting hunger in war-torn Syria, but the conflict is severely limiting its response.
The report states, "restrictions on access resulting from active fighting, bureaucratic impediments, increasing road blockages and a proliferation of non-state actors controlling transit routes, continues to slow or stall the delivery of humanitarian assistance to many areas in need."
In the northern governorates of Al-Hassakeh and Aleppo, food distributions have not even started yet this month because of access constraints by the government and militant groups. In Aleppo aid has struggled to get through for some time. A Save the Children report says, "an assessment earlier this year found that fewer than half of the 2.4m people in need in Aleppo had received any assistance."
More and more Syrians are being displaced by fighting. These families have lost their possessions and have no safety net except for international aid. Food is scarce and what is available has skyrocketed in price. Agriculture has been devastated and many bakeries have been destroyed.
With access so limited inside Syria it is difficult for aid groups to determine the level of malnutrition among the population. What they do know is alarming. Save the Children says, "indications are that children in some areas, such as Rural Damascus, are facing malnutrition. One UN report found that thirteen children died in one health centre in Syria due to malnutrition and lack of medication."
WFP, which relies on voluntary donations, needs about $ US 30 million a week to finance the relief operation. Shipments of wheat have been arriving from the United States to help feed the Syrian war victims. The size of the relief mission requires so much more.
Muhannad Hadi, WFP’s Emergency Coordinator for Syria, says, “The generous US contribution to WFP emergency’s operation for Syrians affected by the conflict comes at a critical time, as needs are increasing yet we are facing real challenges in raising money to keep up."
WFP spokesperson Laure Chadraoui said today that even if "all forecasted contributions materialize, WFP would still need to raise US $176 million until the end of the year to meet the food needs of people affected by the conflict."
WFP's plan is to feed four million Syrians in October. There are also over two million Syrian refugees in other countries who need aid.
The World Food Programme has a donation page for Syrian relief.