WFP warns of growing food crisis in war-torn Syria

Wednesday, January 09, 2013
UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky addresses a
press conference at United Nations HQ in NYC
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
New York: The United Nations food relief agency has warned that humanitarian needs in Syria, especially for food, are growing, with serious bread and fuel shortages across the war-torn country.   

During a press conference in New York, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Martin Nesirky, stressed that despite "insecurity, attacks, road closures, fuel shortages and lack of access to conflict affected areas," UN agencies and humanitarian partners are continuing to reach hundreds of thousands of people in Syria.

Nesirky noted that, overall, the World Food Programme (WFP) has reached 800,000 people since the beginning of January and "hopes to reach 1.5 million people with food distributions in Syria this month."

WFP estimates that 2.5 million people are in need of food assistance. In November, the distribution cycle had provided aid to 1.4 million people, slightly less than the target due to poor security conditions; the December distribution cycle was still underway, so accurate figures were not yet available.   

The spokesperson said the World Food Programme "is unable to further increase assistance because of the lack of implementing partners on the ground and challenges reaching some of the country's areas."

He noted that WFP "recently received approval from the Syrian Government to import fuel for its operations in Syria."

More than 60,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in early 2011. Recent months have witnessed an escalation in the conflict, which is now in its 23rd month.  

The security situation's deterioration has led WFP to temporarily relocate its staff from its sub-offices in the cities of Homs, Aleppo, Tartous and Qamisl.  

On Bahrain, Nesirky said the Secretary-General "deeply regrets" the decision of a Bahraini appeals court to uphold the sentences, including life imprisonment, against 20 Bahraini political activists,

He said the Secretary-General "reiterates his firm belief that the only way to promote peace, stability, justice and prosperity in Bahrain is through a national dialogue, which addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis and in which all communities can participate freely without fear or intimidation."

In early 2012, the Gulf country experienced clashes between security forces and demonstrators; a year after widespread civil protests first emerged there. In June 2011, the King of Bahrain had established the so-called Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate incidents that occurred during the country's unrest.

According to media reports, the 20 activists involved in the Court of Cassation's decision – made on Monday – were among opposition leaders and others originally convicted by a special military tribunal in 2011 of plotting to overthrow the State, and had been sentenced to between five years and life in jail.

All 20 were reported to have lost an appeal in a civilian court last September, and the appeal court's decision yesterday upheld their convictions – although only 13 of them had appealed, with the remaining seven tried in absentia because they were out of the country or in hiding. -UNifeed
Next Post »