This year marks 10 years of humanitarian assistance, through multiple Canadian Foodgrains Bank members and their partners, for people affected by the crisis in Syria. A decade of programs providing food for women, men and children whose lives and livelihoods have been disrupted by the conflict.
One of the leading causes of hunger globally is conflict. And Syria is a good example of what this looks like… especially when the conflict is prolonged. Livelihoods aren’t just disrupted for a moment. Employment opportunities are hard to find during active conflict, but also very difficult in the midst of the economic crisis that has followed. The economic struggles of neighbouring countries has also further impacted Syria’s economic instability. And now the conflict in Ukraine is having large supply chain, scarcity and price effects. For millions of people, it is the difference between using what money you have to buy food for a few days or for a few weeks. It means the basic necessities to survive, let alone thrive, simply seem beyond reach.
Today in Syria, 13.4 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance, 12.4 million Syrians are food insecure, and 6.7 million Syrians are internally displaced. It is no longer an issue of conflict and violence, but also of devastating economic decline, and severe implications on hunger and food security.
What does that look like? Like in any country, parents’ hearts break for their children. In one of the program’s focus group discussions with people reached by the food assistance, women shared how they felt their children, especially those born during the crisis, were the most affected because they had never known security. One mother stated, “They don’t even know what certain foods taste like because now everything is expensive!”
In another program, a woman whose husband died in the war and whose home was partially destroyed, shared how she could barely make ends meet for herself and her three daughters. She didn’t think there was help to be found in a community where so many were struggling. But then she heard about one of our members’ programs. “I went ahead with fear in my body but was greeted cordially and with utmost respect. They heard me out and it was a blessing.” She found food. She found support. She found people who cared.
Like many other conflicts around the world, the effect of the crisis isn’t limited to people continuing to live in Syria. Over 6.6 million people have fled since the start of the conflict and an estimated 1.5 million are refugees living in Lebanon. Foodgrains Bank members are also responding to the needs of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, a country facing its own complex crisis in recent years.
In both Syria and Lebanon, our members (Canadian Baptist Ministries, Mennonite Central Committee, World Renew and Adventist Development and Relief Agency) are working with local partners to provide assistance through food parcels and cash vouchers to help families with the basic necessity of food. Please keep the people of Syria in your prayers as they continue to endure this prolonged crisis.