Twelve years of war, poverty and the recent earthquake have brought the country to its knees. Some 12.1 million Syrians are food insecure and more than three million are sliding into hunger, twice as many as in 2018. In Aleppo, the Blue Marists show solidarity and provide aid, but adults and children show worrying signs of mental health problems.
Aleppo (AsiaNews) – More than half of Syria’s population is going hungry, this according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
Like neighbouring Turkey, Syria experienced a devastating earthquake on 6 February, compounded by 12 years of war and a “poverty bomb” that is killing even more people.
More than 350,000 war-related deaths were reported between March 2011, when the war broke out, and March 2021, one casualty in 13 was a child.
About 5.5 million Syrian have fled abroad, 3.5 million in Turkey, while another 6.5 million are internally displaced, making the situation ever more explosive.
The latest WFP report notes that some 12.1 million Syrians are food insecure, with more than three million sliding into outright hunger, twice as many as in 2019, when fighting was still raging.
Even though the war has abated, the quality of life has declined rapidly, mostly because of international sanctions and opposing interests.
The WFP notes that 28 per cent of children are being stunted in their growth and development.
Syrians have faced “Bombardment, displacement, isolation, drought, economic meltdown and, now, earthquakes of staggering proportions,” said Kenn Crossley, WFP Country Director in Syria. Yet, they “are remarkably resilient,” but “At what point does the world say 'enough'?"
The average wage covers only a quarter of a family's food needs, while prices have risen amid severe fuel and grain shortages linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Poverty, war and devastation caused by the earthquake are among the topics in the Letter from Aleppo Nº 46, published yesterday, by Dr Nabil Antaki of the Blue Marists.
The quake in the country's former business capital killed 458 people, injuring more than a thousand, with the complete collapse of some 60 buildings.
Hundreds of other buildings, which already bore the scars of war, suffered further irreversible damage and must be torn down; thousands more are still inaccessible, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
Christian groups have been at the forefront of relief efforts since the start, like the Blue Marists.
“In the last 20 days, our residence has welcomed hundreds of people, with people coming and going,” Antaki writes.
Although everyone got a roof over their head, food, clothing, a hot bath, “In addition to the serious human and material toll, people, of every age, show signs of psychological trauma,” he adds.
“Today, 35 days after the earthquake, adults and children are still in shock, anguish, despair, have nightmares and think that the worst is yet to come.”