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BEIRUT: The World Food Programme (WFP) aims to feed 2.5 million Syrians next month, up from 1.7 million today, as more Syrians are displaced by their country’s civil war and the economy is disintegrating, a spokeswoman said.
Since the start of the Syria conflict two years ago, nearly 4 million of Syria’s 22 million people have been driven from their homes by the fighting, according to UN estimates. This includes those who fled to neighbouring countries and some 2 million who sought shelter inside Syria.
In one recent wave, more than 20,000 families fled fighting in the northeastern Raqqa province, seeking refuge in the neighbouring district of Deir el-Zour, according to WFP. The UN agency said that in recent days it distributed food to some 20,000 people in public shelters in Deir el-Zour.
In addition to the internally displaced, Syrians who remain in their homes are also in increasing need of food aid. The Syrian economy has been hit hard by the two-year-old conflict, and basics such as food and fuel are becoming scarce in many areas. “The needs are huge and are growing,” said Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the WFP. “It’s kind of a vicious cycle, the collapse of the economy, and more and more people are displaced.”
She said the UN agency distributed food to 1.7 million Syrians in February, with the help of local partners. The agency plans to reach 2 million in March and 2.5 million in April, she said.
The uprising erupted two years ago, with peaceful protests deteriorating into a brutal civil war, initially in response to a harsh crackdown on dissent. More than 70,000 people have been killed. Bashar Al Assad has dug in, aided by Russia, China and Iran, and the conflict has been locked in a stalemate. Despite some military and diplomatic gains by the rebels, neither side has been able to score a breakthrough. AP