Amid unrest, Syrians struggle to feed their families

The Washington Post reports: Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to feed their families in the parts of Syria hardest hit by violence, activists and aid workers say, with access to food cut off by ruined infrastructure, rocketing prices and, say some, security forces who steal and spoil food supplies.

Last month, the World Food Programme dramatically stepped up its operations in Syria, in response to a request from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent society and an assessment that showed worrying levels of hunger in the country.

“We are deeply concerned that as many as half a million people are finding it difficult to get enough to eat, especially in areas most affected by violence,” said Abeer Etefa, a spokeswoman for the World Food Programme. Etefa said that after an assessment by several U.N. agencies, the Syrian government and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the group scaled up assistance to reach a quarter-million people last month. The organization is planning to increase that to 500,000 by the end of this month.

In Homs and Hama, the opposition-dominated cities where some neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble by months of shelling, residents say that they stand in line for hours to buy bread, while meat and vegetables are rarely available and are anyway unaffordable.

In addition, about 200,000 people have been displaced inside the country since the unrest began, according to a recent study by the Norwegian Refugees Council and the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, and many of them cannot provide food for themselves, activists say. With much of the influx now in Damascus or its troubled outskirts, volunteers said that they have difficulty feeding the people, many of whom left their homes with few possessions and little money.

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