Violence Not The Only Threat In Syria As Hunger Worsens

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Homs, Syria
Children play in the rubble of Homs, Syria.

The U.N.’s World Food Program, or WFP, announced Tuesday that it simply cannot keep up with a worsening hunger crisis in Syria, where 2.5 million citizens are in need of food assistance but only about 1.5 million are expected to receive it.

That leaves 1 million people at risk of going hungry in the war-torn country this winter.

About 60,000 people have died since the Syrian conflict begin in March of 2011, according to a recent U.N. estimate. Loosely organized rebel forces under the banner of the Free Syrian Army have been fighting to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

As rebels keep up their fight against Assad’s forces, hunger has become an increasingly formidable adversary. In some areas, people line up for hours to procure a loaf of bread. Fights have broken out over sacks of flour. And to make matters worse, the price of basic food staples has risen.

The winter is worsening in Syria as food crises and violent clashes continue to threaten rebel fighters as well as civilians. But even those who flee Syria -- the number of registered and unregistered refugees is now close to 600,000, according to the U.N. -- often find little relief in overburdened camps in neighboring countries such as Turkey and Jordan.

The WFP is working primarily with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross, to assist the 2.5 million Syrians who are displaced within the country. But WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told the Associated Press that the two organizations were unable to provide assistance to all civilians in dangerous areas like the cities of Homs, Tartous and Aleppo.

“Our main partner, the Red Cross, is overstretched and has no more capacity to expand further,” she said.

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