Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Food Shortages and Storm Threaten Syrians

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Food Shortages and Storm Threaten Syrians

Article excerpt

Conditions appeared to be worsening for hungry residents in combat zones, and a winter storm was making life miserable for thousands of refugees.

Shortages of food and shelter among Syria's war-ravaged civilians appeared to be worsening on Tuesday as the United Nations said it was unable to feed a million hungry residents in combat zones. Aid agencies, meanwhile, reported an outbreak of violence in a large Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, where a winter storm felled tents and left many frustrated inhabitants shivering in a cold rain.

The World Food Program, an agency of the United Nations, said that it was providing food to 1.5 million people inside Syria this month but that as many as 2.5 million needed help, mostly in areas made hazardous by fighting between insurgents and loyalist forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

"Our partners are overstretched, and there is no capacity to expand operations further," Elizabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the agency, said at its headquarters in Geneva. "We need more implementing partners."

She also said acute fuel shortages in Syria had caused delays in food deliveries and contributed to severe inflation in the price of bread because bakeries in Syria needed fuel for their ovens. In the contested northern city of Aleppo, for example, the price of a kilogram of bread is now 250 Syrian pounds, or about $3.50, at least 50 percent higher than other parts of Syria and at least six times more than the price when the Syrian conflict began nearly two years ago.

The United Nations appealed last month for $1.5 billion in additional aid to handle the growing crisis created by a the Syrian conflict, which has left at least 60,000 people dead and is threatening to destabilize the Middle East. More than half a million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries, and the United Nations refugee agency has forecast the number to double in by the middle of 2013.

The most heavily burdened neighbors, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, have been persistently calling for more international aid, particularly during the cold winter months.

In northern Jordan on Tuesday, at least 11 people were injured at the sprawling Zaatari refugee camp when fighting erupted during food distribution. …

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