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Hunger hits record high in Syria - UN

27 gennaio 2023 | 16.11
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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United Nations World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley arrived in Syria this week and urged the world to invest in Syria, where 12 million people are short of food and a further 2.9 million are at risk of hunger, WFP said in a statement on Friday.

“If we don’t address this humanitarian crisis in Syria, things are going to get worse than we can possibly imagine,” said Beasley from Damascus.

“Another wave of mass migration like the one that swept across Europe in 2015 – is that what the international community wants? If not, we must urgently seize this opportunity to avert the looming catastrophe and work together to bring peace and stability to the Syrian people," he said.

After 12 years of conflict, 70% oof Syria's population may soon be unable to put food on the table for their families amid soaring food prices, an economy crippled by runaway inflation and a currency that has collapsed to a record low, the WFP statement warned.

Food prices have increased nearly twelve-fold over the last three years. Syria now has the sixth highest number of food-insecure people in the world, with 2.5 million people relying on food aid to survive.

Child and maternal malnutrition are increasing at a speed never seen before, said the statement.

Beasley, who has visited Syria five times previously, went to Al Nashabiyah subdistrict in Duma in East Ghouta, Rural Damascus. Before the Syrian conflict, East Ghouta was known as the breadbasket for Damascus, as well as for its fruit orchards and export-quality produce.

East Ghouta was heavily bombarded between 2013 and 2018 and its residents forced to flee their homes. During at period, WFP was only able to reach the area through three interagency convoys, the statement said.

WFP has since started to help farmers and local communities by repairing some of the irrigation canals that were destroyed during the conflict and helping smallholders grow wheat and other food so that they can feed themselves and their families.

“WFP is working to irrigate nearly 28,000 hectares of land across the country, enough to feed 620,000 people here. That means less hunger, more economic opportunity, and a stronger local economy. The US$14 million investment will save US$50 million per year in humanitarian assistance, and create nearly 90,000 jobs,” Beasley added.

“But we need to scale up these investments to boost the resilience of other food-insecure communities across Syria," he stated.

Beasley heard first-hand from farmers who have started to grow food after WFP helped restore the irrigation systems. They appealed to him for help to get more water so they can jump-start agriculture in the area again and produce food for their villages and surrounding areas, according to the statement.

WFP is giving monthly aid to nearly seven million people in Syria. The aid includes food ration distributions, prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition, school meals, cash-based transfers and support for livelihoods, resilience, and social safety nets for people whose lives have been torn apart by almost 12 years of conflict, the statement concluded.

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