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The human cost of the Syrian conflict

With an end to hostilities nowhere in sight in Syria, the World Food Programme says the situation, especially in the northwest, is desperate.

By Lydia O’Kane

In Syria, there is no end to the conflict, and no end to the suffering that has been inflicted on its people.  The tragic consequences of nearly ten years of war are laid bare when one looks at the northwest of the country where nearly a million people have been displaced since December.

The situation has become quite desperate, especially in conflict zones such as Idlib, says Abeer Etefa who is a Senior Spokesperson for the Middle East and North Africa with the World Food Programme (WFP).

She recently travelled with the Executive Directors of UNICEF and WFP to the conflict ridden country.

Ms Etefa says that both Directors were able to speak to families who have just returned to areas that have become relatively… safe, telling them about ”the difficult time they have seen over the last few weeks.”

Economy and services

The crisis in Syria has taken a huge toll on the economy as well as services. Hospitals, schools, and sanitation systems have either been damaged or destroyed. The situation for people is also being compounded by cold weather conditions.

The Senior Spokesperson points out that the economy is near collapse, countless children have lost many years of education, and with no end to the conflict in sight, people are losing hope because “they can no longer put food on the table.”

She goes on to say that in Idlib, with the constant shelling and bombing, people have nowhere to go. “The humanitarian situation is certainly dire and desperate in some of these conflict areas.”

Listen to the interview

Providing humanitarian assistance

Before returning from their visit to Syria, both Executive Directors stressed the importance of being able to move staff and supplies across conflict lines and across borders in order to reach the populations most in need.

Ms Efeta notes that “it is very difficult to provide food assistance and humanitarian assistance in general… So with the situation in Idlib, it is extremely challenging to get staff to get food to the families in a timely manner and this is why we need access from all different directions.”

As the conflict enters its tenth year, the statistics tell a tragic story. Nearly 12 million people in Syria are in need humanitarian assistance, over 5.5 million Syrians are refugees, and over 6 million people have been displaced.

10 March 2020, 14:04