Geneva, 28 Safar 1434 H/10 January 2013 (MINA) – The World Food Program said on Tuesday it is unable to help an estimated one million Syrians who are going hungry, blaming a lack of security in the war-stricken country.
This month, the agency aims to help 1.5 million of the 2.5 million Syrians whom the Syrian Arab Red Crescent says need food aid, spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said, according to Arab News report received by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Thursday.
The poor security and the agency’s inability to use the Syrian port of Tartous for shipments means that a large number of people in the some of the country’s hardest hit areas will not get help, she said.
“Our main partner, the Red Crescent, is overstretched and has no more capacity to expand further,” Byrs said. She also said that the agency has temporarily pulled its staff out of its offices in the Syrian cities of Homs, Aleppo, Tartous and Qamisly due to the rising dangers in those areas.
But in December, WFP was able to enter for the first time in many months some hard-to-reach areas near the Turkish border, she said.
The Syria crisis began with peaceful protests in March 2011 but has since shifted into a civil war. At least 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict, according to a recent UN estimate.
To make matters worse, a winter storm is magnifying the misery for tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing the country’s civil war, turning a refugee camp into a muddy swamp where howling winds tore down tents and exposed the displaced residents to freezing temperatures.
Some frustrated refugees at a camp in Zaatari, Jordan where about 50,000 are sheltered, attacked aid workers with sticks and stones after the tents collapsed in 35 mph (60 kph) winds, said Ghazi Sarhan, spokesman for the Jordanian charity that helps run the camp. Police said seven Jordanian workers were injured.
After three days of rain, muddy water engulfed tents housing refugees including pregnant women and infants. Those who didn’t move out used buckets to bail out the water; others built walls of mud to try to stay dry.
Conditions in the Zaatari camp were “worse than living in Syria,” said Fadi Suleiman, a 30-year-old refugee. Most of Zaatari’s residents are children under age 18 and women. They are some of the more than 280,000 Syrians who fled to Jordan since the uprising against President Bashar Assad broke out in March 2011. As the fighting has increased in recent weeks, the number of displaced has risen.
About a half-million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries including Turkey and Lebanon to escape the civil war that has killed an estimated 60,000 people in nearly two years of fighting. Wet and wintry weather across the Middle East has made conditions miserable for refugees in those countries as well — even flooding two camps in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley after a river overflowed its banks. (T/R-009/R-006)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)