Starvation in Syria

From Reuters:

The United Nations estimates that around 9.3 million people in Syria or about 40 percent of the population need humanitarian assistance due to the country’s 2-1/2-year, the U.N. humanitarian office said on Monday.

“The humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate rapidly and inexorably,” U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told the U.N. Security Council behind closed doors, according to her spokeswoman Amanda Pitt.

“The number of people we estimate to be in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria has now risen to some 9.3 million,” Pitt said, summarizing Amos’ remarks to the 15-nation council. “Of them, 6.5 million people are displaced from their homes, within the country.”

From the New York Times this weekend. 

Abu Hazem, 43, a taxi driver in Moadhamiya, said he fed his five children a dwindling supply of lentils, sometimes mixed with grass, and once shot a dog for food “because there are no birds flying over Moadhamiya.” The children no longer cry from hunger; they are used to it, he said. “They start singing sometimes when they are hungry.”

Umm Hamza, who fled Moadhamiya with her two children and gave only a nickname for fear of reprisals, described eating mainly greens after her stores of pickled food ran out and a rebel-run bakery closed for lack of flour and fuel. “We spent days with no water and no food at all,” she said in a recent interview near a government shelter in Qudsaya, her face yellowish and her eyes weary. She said she knew several people who had lost children for want of food and medicine.

Moadhamiya has gone without meat, eggs and milk for months, and in August, after pasta stocks ran out, leaving mainly olives, leaves and greens, people started to die, Mr. Zakarya said. He provided medical reports and videos.

First there was Ammar Arafa, 8, a disabled child who lived mainly on the formula PediaSure, which, like his medications, became unobtainable. Then Ibrahim Khalil, 4, his limbs skin and bone. Imad Sawan, 5, was wounded during shelling and recovered poorly from a bowel operation, a procedure that requires extra nutrition to heal. A similar fate befell Mona Ragab, 30.

The population of Syria is around 23 million. That puts the total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance at around 40% of the population. Despite these immense figures, the international community is not keeping up in terms of providing for the most basic humanitarian needs of people affected by this crisis. Relief agencies need $4.3 billion for food, shelter medicines and other relief items and services. They have so far only received $2.6 billion, leaving a $1.7 billion gap.

Syria used to be a proudly middle income country. Now, people are routinely starving.