Tag Archives: Syria conflict

UNICEF desperately low on funds for Syrian war relief

UNICEF, the children’s relief agency, today confirmed it has only received 2 percent of the funding it needs this year to provide aid inside Syria. Three years of civil war has left five million children in need of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies.

Read the full article at Examiner.com

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Feed Syria’s Starving War Victims

WFP is trying to feed millions of Syrian war victims (WFP/Marco Frattini)

WFP is trying to feed millions of Syrian war victims (WFP/Marco Frattini)

Where there is war there is hunger. In Syria children have died because of chemical weapons, but also because they could not get enough food. Weakened, illness overtook them.

Isra from Syria says, “This war…is killing people slowly. We used up all our supplies of food – I could only give my children one or two mouthfuls of rice to keep them going. I just cried at night.”

The civil war in Syria has created a new enemy for the people: hunger. Syria’s agriculture has been ruined and many bakeries have been destroyed by shelling. The seeds of war have been planted for famine.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) is facing its largest hunger relief mission. WFP is trying to feed three million Syrians this month, but faces extreme difficulty in moving life-saving aid because of the violence.

Many people are blocked off from aid by the Syrian government. Save the Children says the numbers of hungry are likely much higher, possibly 10.5 million Syrians in seven governorates alone. Save the Children warns, “As the destruction continues, these numbers will grow: children who once relied on three healthy meals a day will go to bed hungry, afraid, feeling abandoned by the world outside.”

There are also two million Syrians who have fled to Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Lebanon. They totally depend on international aid.

The World Food Program needs about $ US 30 million a week to provide food aid for Syrian war victims. The UN food agency is also trying to feed millions of hungry in Yemen, Afghanistan, Mali, South Sudan, Darfur, Haiti and other countries leveled by conflict or natural disasters.

As the world tries to negotiate an end to the war, we must also press the Syrian government to allow full access to the hungry. In addition, WFP and other aid agencies must have the funding they need to bring relief.

It’s overwhelming for any individual to look at the size of this crisis. But everyone can have an impact, even some of the simplest measures can help. The free smartphone app Charity Miles raises money for the World Food Program. Just going out for a walk, run or bike can raise funds for WFP, which is an agency that relies entirely on voluntary funding. It’s free for you, the funds are donated from a corporate sponsorship pool.

Using this app I have raised hundreds of meals for WFP just by running or walking. I know it’s a small amount, but it’s better than feeling helpless. Laure Chadraoui, a WFP rep working on Syrian relief, told me “What you do makes us all very proud, we need every penny indeed.”

It’s also important to make an impact statement. That’s what needed to keep the focus of leaders in bringing an end to the war and negotiating agreements on humanitarian access. It can help motivate the Congress to pass key legislation like the Global Food Security Act, so hunger remains a top foreign policy priority.

What happens in communities can have a powerful impact globally. In the fall of 1947 people across the USA donated food for the Friendship Train. This outpouring had a powerful influence on Congress as it debated aid to rebuild war-torn Europe.

Senator Arthur Vandenberg said the Friendship Train, “demonstrates our instinct, our tradition, and our impulse to feed the hungry and to heal the sick; and personifies the friendliness which is the genius of a lasting peace.” That holiday season Americans did not stop either, they fed a “silent guest” at Thanksgiving and Christmas which led to more CARE packages for the hungry. The famous Marshall Plan followed and rebuilt Europe from the ashes of war.

Every generation’s horrors can be overcome by its heroes. During World War I collections were held to provide relief in Belgium and other suffering countries. Even after the war people responded to pleas from Herbert Hoover and General John J. Pershing to feed the “invisible guest”: a hungry child. The Motion Picture Industry even held a major fundraiser at the same time.

As Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Every little bit can go a long way. Understanding this is what makes a leader. Now is the time for action as our generation faces its great challenges in war, humanitarianism and the quest for peace.

Originally published at the Huffington Post.

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Millions of Syrians Desperate for Food Aid

Though many families have fled Homs, a few choose to return to their homes in the neighbourhood of Baba Amr despite the challenges. Of those who have fled from Homs to Aleppo,many were later forced to move along when the fighting intensified there as well (photo courtesy WFP/Abeer Etefa)

Though many families have fled Homs, a few choose to return to their homes in the neighbourhood of Baba Amr despite the challenges. Of those who have fled from Homs to Aleppo,many were later forced to move along when the fighting intensified there as well (photo courtesy WFP/Abeer Etefa)

Life-saving food aid is not reaching hungry Syrians because of the escalating conflict between Assad’s government and rebels. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said today that “the situation is critical in conflict zones and some opposition-held areas where WFP has limited access and where millions of people are believed to be in acute need of food.”

WFP is urging the warring parties to allow food aid to pass safely into conflict zones. The hardest-to-reach areas include parts of rural Damascus, Quneitra, Dara’a, Deir Ezzor, Al-Raqqa, and the north of the country, particularly Aleppo and Idlib.

Muhannad Hadi, WFP’s Regional Emergency Coordinator for the Syria crisis, says, “It has become a struggle now to move food from one area to the other with our warehouses and trucks getting increasingly caught in the crossfire. We are sometimes left with the difficult decision of calling off the dispatch of food to a place where we know there is dire need for it.”

WFP lost some food when a mortar struck one of its warehouses. The UN food agency is trying to feed 2.5 million Syrians this month inside the battered country.

Funding problems as well as violence plague the relief mission. WFP relies on voluntary funding from governments and the public. Funds are needed to feed not only the at least 2.5 million Syrians inside the country, but also the close to a million refugees who have fled to Jordan and other neighbors.

WFP has already started to bring Plumpy’Doz, a food that fights child malnutrition, into Syria. As the conflict continues, more and more Syrian children will be at risk of lasting physical and mental damage, or even death, from the malnutrition in the country.

WFP has set up a relief fund for Syria.

Article first published as Millions of Syrians Desperate for Food Aid on Blogcritics.

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USAID Official tells Congress of Syrian Hunger Emergency

This week Nancy Lindborg of USAID testified before the Senate about the humanitarian crisis in Syria.Credits: file photo courtesy of Mercy Corps

This week Nancy Lindborg of USAID testified before the Senate about the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Credits: file photo courtesy of Mercy Corps

Nancy Lindborg of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) spoke to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday about the growing humanitarian crisis facing war-torn Syria.

Her testimony followed an alarming report by Save the Children which states that potentially as many as “3.2 million people need food assistance in 58 sub-districts alone, suggesting that the situation may be much worse than previously thought.”

Lindborg, the Assistant Administrator for Humanitarian Assistance said, “World Food Program (WFP) activities supported by the United States currently provide monthly rations to nearly 1.5 million within Syria and approximately 300,000 refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.”

She also described how US assistance is helping people in Aleppo governorate receive bread. Shortages of this basic staple have become widespread across Syria.

As Lindborg noted in her testimony, WFP is scaling up its activities to reach 2.5 million Syrians by the end of April. WFP, which relies on voluntary contributions from the US and other countries, is very short on funding.

Budget decisions made by the Congress in coming weeks will have an effect on Syria and other nations facing humanitarian disasters. Bread for the World reported this week that the sequester cuts will impact international food aid. Even before these proposed cuts international food aid makes up less than one tenth of one percent of the entire federal budget.

The Save the Children report warns, “as the fighting continues and families are finding that accessing nutritious food becomes ever more difficult, expensive, and even dangerous, there are the first signs of an increase in the number of children suffering malnutrition.”

The World Food Program has set up a relief fund for Syria.

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Tears Tell Story of Syria, an Interview with Laure Chadraoui

Where there is war there is hunger. This holds true with the conflict now taking place in Syria. The UN World Food Programme, the largest food aid organization, is currently feeding 1.5 million Syrians displaced within their own country.

Hundreds of thousands of other Syrians who fled to neighboring Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan are also receiving aid. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says, “conditions in Syria continue to deteriorate as the Assad regime relentlessly wages war on its own people.”

The longer the fighting continues, hunger will only intensify as the country’s regular food supply systems continue to break down. The World Food Programme, and its partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) are the lifeline for saving innocent Syrians from starvation.

Laure Chadraoui, a World Food Programme (WFP) officer, was just on a mission into Syria. She shares her experience in the war-torn country following interview.

You were just in the conflict areas of Syria and met with families. Can you tell us about the impact of this conflict on them to give readers an idea of life in a war zone?

During my recent mission to Syria, I visited Damascus, one area in Rural Damascus and Homs. Talking to displaced people, I saw how shocked they were from what had befallen their country. They still could not believe that this is happening to them. After more than a year and a half, many are in shock. During a door to door distribution of WFP food assistance by Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers in Homs, I saw a woman, in her early 20s, standing at the door of her house, or new shelter is a more accurate description, holding a one year old girl.

She did not ask for anything as I approached to talk to her. When I asked her where she came from, she was in tears before she could say: Khaldiyeh. Khaldieyeh, in the old city of Homs, has endured recently heavy fighting. She had only recently given birth and had to flee with her husband and her newborn baby. Her husband was not at home, she told me, he goes looking for someone to hire him as a daily worker, most of the time to no avail. What she receives from WFP is all she has got to feed her baby. She was not very comfortable telling her story, but her tears told most of it. I imagined, then, that many of these displaced people, lost members of their families, or their homes, or their livelihoods, or maybe all at once. Their lives are shattered. This woman, found a home, in a safe area in Homs, but the sound of explosions and fighting is clear, and she, like many others know it is probably not far from what they used to call “home.”

I met other WFP beneficiaries at public shelters, each family living in a room, that is now the kitchen and the bedroom and the playground. The mattresses lined up on top of each other to give space for the family to sit together is the common image that strikes you everywhere in those shelters. Sometimes more than one family share one room. I met a family with children and a baby no more than 4 months who has taken an empty and unfinished villa as her new shelter. The villa is still under construction, has no doors or windows. That was the best they could find. It looked like it was in the middle of nowhere. Their needs are huge from food to medical care and non-food items. The mother told me, she fled with only the clothes they were wearing. They were poor where she came from but had a roof over their head; we had a decent life and we were happy, she told me. However, it was a relief to see that our food is reaching them and in many ways saving their lives.

Are children at risk of physically and mentally damaging malnutrition in Syria and are there going to be enough food supplies and access to prevent this?

It was particularly painful to see displaced children. They are not only uprooted from their familiar environment but also from their schools. WFP is working closely with UNICEF to ensure children’s nutritional needs are met. We are importing plumpy doz which is expected in the coming weeks targeting around 100,000 children under 5 years old. WFP is also providing logistic support to other agencies and we have shipped humanitarian supplies on behalf of UNICEF, among others, to different parts of the countries.

How much agricultural land has been harmed by the fighting and what impact will this have going forward?

A Joint Rapid Food Security Needs Assessment mission, conducted in June 2012, by WFP, FAO, and the Syrian Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform in Syria revealed that the agricultural sector has lost a total of US$1.8 billion this year as a result of the crisis due to losses and damages to crops, livestock and irrigation systems. The assessment has shown that strategic crops, such as wheat and barley, have been badly affected. The findings indicated that 3 million people are in need of food, crop, and livestock assistance such as seeds, food for animals, fuel and repair of irrigation pumps over the next 12 months.

How is the funding level for the Syrian relief mission? And how can people help?

WFP’s operation in Syria is short if US$ 56 million to be able to continue its most needed food assistance to 1.5 million displaced and vulnerable people until the end of the year. Individuals wishing to contribute can also do so by visiting WFP’s official site.

Article first published as Tears Tell Story of Syria: An Interview with Laure Chadraoui on Blogcritics.

Update: The World Food Programme has started a Syria relief fund. Visit the WFP Syria relief fund page.

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Food, Clothing, Tech, and Logistics All Crucial for Syrian Aid

Though many families have fled Homs, a few choose to return to their homes in the neighbourhood of Baba Amr despite the challenges. Of those who have fled from Homs to Aleppo,many were later forced to move along when the fighting intensified there as well (photo courtesy WFP/Abeer Etefa)

This week I have an article on the History News Network about why humanitarian aid is so critical for Syria. We have to look ahead too, with winter not too far around the corner.

If the conflict continues, humanitarian needs are only going to increase. When you add colder temperatures on top of this prospect, it is cause for great alarm. Winter clothing will be needed for refugees from the Syrian conflict, in addition to food and other basic items.

Here is some of the latest information from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) on its hunger relief efforts for Syrian war victims. In September WFP is feeding around 1.5 million people in 14 Syrian governorates affected by the conflict. WFP works through its partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

WFP says, “The situation remains tense across the country with armed activities on-going in various governorates and on international roads causing WFP dispatches to be delayed and monitoring activities hindered especially in Idleb, Homs and Aleppo.”

WFP relies on voluntary donations from the international community. There have been generous donations already from the United States and other countries. But so much more is needed given the size of the emergency. That is why funding for the U.S. Food for Peace program, which is a major supporter of WFP, is so crucial.

WFP currently faces a $61 million shortage of funding in Syria. Another vital aspect of WFP’s work is in the area of communications and logistics. These measures help connect aid groups so they can better coordinate operations and transportation.

WFP reported last week, “Urgent funding is also needed to continue implementing activities under the Special Operation (SO) 200477, aimed at augmenting WFP’s capacity in logistics, communication and security amidst the increasingly challenging environment.”

In addition to relief activities inside Syria there is help needed for hundreds of thousands who have fled the country into neighboring Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. WFP also needs additional funding for this operation.

Catholic Relief Services is also carrying on relief work to help the refugees, with their focus on Jordan and Lebanon. They are also urging people to contact Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to build support for helping the refugees and ending the conflict.

Article first published as Food, Clothing, Tech, and Logistics All Crucial for Syrian Aid on Blogcritics.

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WFP Facing Critical Funding Shortage for Syrian Relief

Even before the violence broke out in Syria, a food security survey found that 1.4 million people were struggling to meet their daily food needs. Many lived in areas currently affected by conflict. (WFP/ Salah Malkawi)

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says its facing a “critical funding shortfall” of US $62 million dollars as it tries to feed victims of the conflict in Syria. The UN food agency depends entirely on voluntary donations from governments and the public.

WFP just sent aid to Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, after reports of food shortages following an increase in fighting between the Syrian government and rebels. A WFP press release says, “The humanitarian situation is deteriorating in Aleppo and food needs are growing rapidly, with heavy fighting entering its second week – forcing about 200,000 people to flee the city. ”

Working with the Syrian Red Crescent, WFP provided food aid to over 500,000 war victims during July. However, the violence in the country prevented WFP from reaching its target goal of 850,000 Syrians. A recent report also reveals that three million Syrians will need help during the coming months.

The fighting has taken its toll on the livelihoods of families, many of which were already at poverty level. Abdulla BinYehia of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says, “The most vulnerable families in Syria depend entirely or partly on agriculture and farm animals for food and income. They need emergency support, like seeds, repairs to irrigation systems, animal feed and healthcare.”

BinYehia warns, “If timely assistance is not provided, the livelihood system of these vulnerable people could simply collapse in a few months’ time. Winter is fast approaching and urgent action is needed before then.”

The White House released a statement this week highlighting a 12 million dollar donation of additional humanitarian aid to Syria. This donation will be distributed among various aid agencies working inside Syria including WFP. So far this fiscal year the US has donated 27 million dollars to the WFP relief operation in Syria. Many more donations are needed as there is no end in sight for the conflict.

As the White House stated, “The quickest way to end the bloodshed and suffering of the Syrian people is for Bashar al-Asad to recognize that the Syrian people will not allow him to continue in power, and to step aside to enable a peaceful political transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Syrian people.”

WFP is also feeding a growing number of refugees who have fled to neighboring countries. There is expected to be well over 100,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan by the end of this year.

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