I met other WFP beneficiaries at public shelters, each family living in a room, that is now the kitchen and the bedroom and the playground. The mattresses lined up on top of each other to give space for the family to sit together is the common image that strikes you everywhere in those shelters. Sometimes more than one family share one room. I met a family with children and a baby no more than 4 months who has taken an empty and unfinished villa as her new shelter. The villa is still under construction, has no doors or windows. That was the best they could find. It looked like it was in the middle of nowhere. Their needs are huge from food to medical care and non-food items. The mother told me, she fled with only the clothes they were wearing. They were poor where she came from but had a roof over their head; we had a decent life and we were happy, she told me. However, it was a relief to see that our food is reaching them and in many ways saving their lives.
Are children at risk of physically and mentally damaging malnutrition in Syria and are there going to be enough food supplies and access to prevent this?
It was particularly painful to see displaced children. They are not only uprooted from their familiar environment but also from their schools. WFP is working closely with UNICEF to ensure children’s nutritional needs are met. We are importing plumpy doz which is expected in the coming weeks targeting around 100,000 children under 5 years old. WFP is also providing logistic support to other agencies and we have shipped humanitarian supplies on behalf of UNICEF, among others, to different parts of the countries.
How much agricultural land has been harmed by the fighting and what impact will this have going forward?
A Joint Rapid Food Security Needs Assessment mission, conducted in June 2012, by WFP, FAO, and the Syrian Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform in Syria revealed that the agricultural sector has lost a total of US$1.8 billion this year as a result of the crisis due to losses and damages to crops, livestock and irrigation systems. The assessment has shown that strategic crops, such as wheat and barley, have been badly affected. The findings indicated that 3 million people are in need of food, crop, and livestock assistance such as seeds, food for animals, fuel and repair of irrigation pumps over the next 12 months.