Syrians refugees walk near street vendors after heavy rain,
at the Al-Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of
Mafraq, near the border with Syria. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji
About 1 million Syrians are going hungry due to the
difficulty of getting supplies into conflict zones and the fact
that the few government-approved aid agencies are stretched to
the limit, the United Nations says.
The U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) is handing out rations
to about 1.5 million people in Syria each month, still short
of the 2.5 million deemed to be in need, WFP spokeswoman
Elisabeth Byrs said.
Bread and fuel particularly are in short supply, but the WFP
said it had won "special permission" from the government to
import fuel from Lebanon to use in the trucks distributing
aid in Syria.
The WFP is unable to increase assistance due to difficulty in
reaching some insecure areas. Only a handful of aid agencies
are authorised to distribute relief goods, some of which lack
staff, fuel or other material.
"Our main partner, the (Syrian Arab) Red Crescent, is
overstretched and has no more capacity to expand further,"
Byrs told a news briefing in Geneva.
More than 60,000 people have been killed during 21 months of
conflict between the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and
rebels trying to topple him.
Deteriorating security conditions forced the WFP to withdraw
its staff from the towns of Homs, Aleppo, Tartous and
Qamisly, Byrs said.
Long queues for bread are now normal in many parts of Syria
and there are shortages of wheat flour in most parts of the
country due to damage to mills, most of which are located in
the embattled Aleppo area, she said.
Deliveries of food have been delayed by insecurity, and ships
now have to use the Lebanese port of Beirut instead of the
Syrian port of Tartous, Byrs said.
The United Nations last month appealed for $1.5 billion to
help the millions of Syrians suffering from what it called a
dramatically deteriorating humanitarian situation.
Four million people in the country need urgent humanitarian
aid, including an estimated 2 million displaced from their
homes by fighting.
The number of registered Syrian refugees has leapt from
500,000 to nearly 600,000 in the past month, U.N. figures