BY DAILY SABAH WITH AFP
As the war in Syria drags on for more than a decade, aid group Save the Children warned on Thursday that there has been a significant surge in starving children in the country.
“Every day we have to deal with more malnourished children than the day before,” the aid agency said, in an urgent appeal to donors.
“Malnutrition is life threating to children. Poverty and the inability to afford food are the main reasons families are giving for this increase.”
From April to September, the aid agency recorded more than 10,000 malnourished children, compared to 6,650 in the previous six months.
On top of conflict, Syria is mired in its worst economic crisis since war erupted in 2011 when the regime brutally repressed pro-democracy protests, resulting in nearly half a million people killed.
The United Nations estimates 90% of the 18 million people in Syria are living in poverty, with the economy hit by conflict, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the fallout from the financial crash in neighboring Lebanon.
The situation appears to be extreme in areas outside the control of the Damascus regime.
For years, the Bashar Assad regime has ignored the needs and safety of the Syrian people, only eyeing further gains of territory and crushing the opposition. With this aim, the regime has for years bombed vital facilities like schools, hospitals and residential areas, causing the displacement of almost half of the country’s population while adopting policies to make their lives more difficult.
“While the average family income has not increased, food prices skyrocketed by almost 800% between 2019 and 2021, and continue to rise in 2022,” the charity added.
“This massive price hike is forcing an ever-increasing number of people to go hungry.”
The key Al-Yarubiyah crossing to northeast Syria from Iraq was shut in 2020 after Russia and China vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions authorizing it to remain open, limiting aid access to the region.
Since then, aid to these areas controlled by the PKK’s Syrian wing, the YPG, requires the approval of Damascus, an ally of Moscow.
“After almost 12 years of conflict in Syria, the worsening economic situation has become the main driver of needs, despite continued armed conflict in many parts of the country,” said Beat Rohr, Save the Children chief in Syria.
“At least 60% of the population is currently food insecure, and the situation is getting worse by the day.”