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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 6 March 2021

More than six million children in Syria are going hungry

The economic crisis is pushing more Syrians to skip meals, charity Save the Children said

Play time in the rubble-strewn streets of Yarmouk, where many Palestinians live, on the edge of the Syrian capital Damascus. A rising number of children in the country are going hungry. AFP
Play time in the rubble-strewn streets of Yarmouk, where many Palestinians live, on the edge of the Syrian capital Damascus. A rising number of children in the country are going hungry. AFP

More than six million children in Syria are going without food, international children’s rights group Save the Children said.

The British charity said it was “deeply concerned” by the steep rise in hunger across the country and estimated that in the past four months, 35 per cent more children went without food at some point.

New figures from the World Food Programme revealed about 12.4 million people were experiencing food shortages, the highest proportion since the conflict began about 10 years ago.

Save the Children estimated that more than 60 per cent of children in the country face hunger and a struggle to survive.

“We are worried that young lives will be lost because children don’t have any food to eat,” said Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Syria response director.

“We are seeing more and more families in Syria struggling to make ends meet. This is having a direct impact on their children, as families have to resort to eating fewer meals, and they have less to give to their children. Even people with jobs are seeing the value of their wages shrink at a staggering rate, leaving them with very little to survive.”

“We are worried that young lives will be lost because children don’t have any food to eat.” Sonia Khush, Save the Children.

Syria’s economy has plummeted since sanctions came into effect in mid-2020 and the currency collapsed in neighbouring Lebanon. Soaring inflation and the pandemic has pushed more people into poverty.

The Syrian pound fell to a low of 3,450 to the dollar on Sunday, down 18 per cent from the previous month. Before the war, the exchange rate was 47 Syrian pounds to the dollar.

The WFP said the cost of basic items rose by 236 per cent and the price of oil by 500 per cent in the past year.

“It is alarming that a simple meal is beyond the reach of families across Syria, and this new data shows humanitarian assistance is the difference between putting a meal on the table and going to bed hungry,” said Sean O’Brien, the WFP representative and country director.

The WFP, which is part of the UN, provides food to 4.8 million people in Syria each month but said it was struggling to meet urgent food needs.

It has requested an additional $375.4 million in aid.

Updated: February 22, 2021 07:19 PM

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