Eleven years after the Syrian conflict began, six in 10 Syrians do not know where their next meal is coming from, according to Oxfam. It warned that reliance on imports from Russia means the current crisis in Europe could ripple into Syria, exacerbating food shortages and causing food prices to soar. In the last year, food prices in Syria have doubled.
Oxfam spoke to 300 Syrians in government-held areas of the country. Nearly 90 per cent said they could only afford to eat bread, rice and, occasionally, some vegetables. After 10 years of conflict, the shockwaves of COVID-19, and the Lebanese banking crisis coupled with the Ukrainian crisis are having serious repercussions for the floundering economy, disrupting food and fuel imports and causing the Syrian pound to plummet at breakneck speed.
“People have been pushed to the brink by a collapsing economy. Around Damascus, people queue for hours to get subsidized bread at state bakeries, while young children rifle through garbage trying to find scraps of food. Struggling to put food on the table means many families are turning to extreme ways to cope: going into debt to buy food, taking children out of school to work and reducing the number of meals each day. Marrying off young daughters has become another negative coping strategy, as it is one less mouth to feed. This is against a backdrop of 90 per cent of Syrians living in poverty, unemployment rate at 60 per cent and a monthly minimum wage in the public sector of approximately $26 [USD],” Moutaz Adham, Country Director for Oxfam in Syria, said
“Syria relies heavily on Russia for imports of wheat. The crisis in Ukraine has seen the Syrian government starting to ration food reserves, including wheat, sugar, oil, and rice amid fears of shortages and price surges, and this could be just the beginning.”
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Notes to editors:
- 4 million people in Syria are food insecure, child labour occurs in 84 per cent of communities and child marriage for adolescent girls in 71 per cent of communities, according to the latest figures from the Humanitarian Needs Overview.
- The price of the World Food Program (WFP) standard food basket (a group of essential food items) has increased by 97 per cent in the past year.
- Last year, the Syrian government reportedly had to import 5 million tons of wheat, mainly from Russia.
- As part of its Emergency and Food Security response, Oxfam interviewed 300 beneficiaries in government held areas of Aleppo, Deir-ez-Zor and Rural Damascus governorates, 100 beneficiaries in each governorate and found that 88 per cent eat only bread, rice and occasionally vegetables. Additionally, 60 per cent of people Oxfam spoke to say they earn less than what they need to cover their food needs.
- Oxfam has been working in Syria since 2013 to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict. In the last year, Oxfam has reached 1.2 million people by providing clean drinking water, emergency cash assistance, and hygiene items and other materials.