Syrians caught up in their nation’s civil war are increasingly having to cut out basic foods from their diets to save money, or are resorting to begging to survive, the World Food Program warned Tuesday.
Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the UN food agency, said its teams had managed to carry out their first assessment in the embattled city of Aleppo since December, as well as taking stock of the situation in other parts of Syria.
“The results are significant, notably regarding the coping mechanisms which the population has in place to deal with the lack of food and the difficulty of getting supplies,” Byrs told reporters.
“The first alternative strategy is to switch to lower-quality food, in other words, to buy less fresh food, less meat, fewer eggs and dairy products,” she said.
As prices climb, more than 50 percent of family budgets were being dedicated to food, the WFP teams found.
“Another coping mechanism, unfortunately, is begging. Back in March, five percent of people had chosen to beg in order to survive, and in April and May it was up to nine percent,” Byrs said.
Families were also struggling to pay rents, with some being forced to pool their meager resources.
“Two or more families are sharing rented apartments to save costs, notably in rural Damascus, Damascus city and Tartous,” Byrs said, noting that in some cases, 25 individuals were found living in one room.
People no longer able to pay rent at all were increasingly squatting abandoned buildings, bus stations and warehouses.
“We’re also seeing a growth of shanty towns, where the conditions for water, sewage and hygiene are appalling,” Byrs added.
More than 94,000 people have been killed and some 1.6 million have fled Syria since the war began in March 2011 after a crackdown on protests against strongman President Bashar al-Assad.
Within the country, a total of 6.8 million people are forecast to need aid this year, the majority of them those displaced by fighting.
With the Muslim Ramadan fasting period looming, Byrs said the WFP was stepping up convoys.
“We need to be ready for a decrease or even a halt in aid transports by some organizations during Ramadan in July. We need to preposition aid as soon as possible to ensure families don’t suffer from this,” she said.
– To see original article: https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/un-syrians-cutting-out-food-begging-to-survive