DAMASCUS, Syria — Rania is twenty-five years old. She is the mother of four children. For most of the past decade, Rania has been food insecure. Syria’s gruesome civil war has contributed to higher rates of hunger in Syria. Much of the information that is available about food insecurity and rates of hunger in Syria is incomplete. The Global Hunger Index was unable to include Syria in its 2019 Index, because of “insufficient data.” However, the Global Hunger Index has stated that there are factors in play that give the world ample reason to worry about people, like Rania, who live in Syria.
Increasing Food Prices
One troubling factor is that the price of food is higher in Syria than it has been in the nine years since the start of Syria’s civil war. At the beginning of 2020, around 7.9 million Syrians were food insecure. By June, that number increased to 9.3 million. This indicates a strong correlation between the price of food and hunger in Syria.
Rania and her four children are forced to live in states of hunger and food insecurity as a result, in part, of rising food prices. Increased food prices are, perhaps, linked to the “social and economic fallout” that Oxfam anticipates will occur in the wake of COVID-19. Hunger in Syria will increase as humanitarian organizations are faced with greater obstacles to delivering aid. However, throughout Syria’s decade-long civil war, humanitarian organizations have found ways to continue their operations. Here’s a look at five of them.
Five Humanitarian Organizations Providing Aid to Syria
- Oxfam – Between 2017 and 2018, Oxfam conducted two proper hygiene practice campaigns throughout Syria. These campaigns reached 49 schools around Damascus. The goal of these campaigns was to teach students, aged 10-12 years old, how to effectively wash their hands. Additionally, the humanitarian organization showed them how to keep their drinking water clean. Oxfam anticipates that students will share this information with their parents. Thus information about proper hygiene practices, as well as how to keep drinking water safe, will spread to adults throughout Syria.
- UNICEF – As the civil war in Syria approaches its tenth year of active conflict, UNICEF found that around 4.3 million children are in need of humanitarian aid. To combat hunger in Syria, UNICEF screened 1.8 million women and children for factors that indicate extreme malnutrition. It then provided essential vitamins and minerals to 1.25 million children, pregnant women and women who have recently given birth.
- The Norwegian Refugee Council – The NRC teamed up with Oxfam to produce a report titled, “Hard Lessons.” This report outlines obstacles that organizations face when they seek to provide aid to people inside Syria. The report shows that the Syrian regime has routinely blocked aid deliveries to certain areas. Furthermore, bombing campaigns have damaged the infrastructure that organizations rely on to deliver aid, including hospitals and schools. The report prompted the U.N. Security Council to, “restart cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria.”
- Doctors Without Borders – Doctors Without Borders has been a stalwart organization in the fight to deliver health care to Syria, whether it be maternal health care, primary healthcare or disease treatment. It has used mobile clinics and Syrian hospitals to treat patients. Among other concerns, it has also focused on improving sanitation and water systems.
- The World Food Programme (WFP) – WFP provides vital food supplies to 4.5 million Syrians every month. Their work spans across all 14 governates of Syria. The organization has directed much of its food distribution to Syrian schools. The goal of this initiative is to keep children attending school, where they receive a snack and lunch each day.
– Taylor Pangman