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700k more children in Syria face hunger amid devastated economy, COVID-19 restrictions
by Zhelwan Z. Wali for Rudaw.net
12-10-2020 - ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — At least 700,000 more children are facing hunger in Syria due to a further deterioration of the economy amid coronavirus restrictions, warns a top humanitarian organization. 
A new report by Save the Children puts the total number of food insecure children at 4.6 million in the war-ravaged country, with receiving proper nutrition becoming unaffordable for many.
"It is vital that the international community comes together to invest in efforts to improve the availability and affordability of safe and nutritious food. While the needs across Syria are deepening owing to COVID-19 and the economic impacts of the conflict, the requirements for nutrition are only 11% funded,” the report released on Monday reads. 
Food prices skyrocketed this summer when the Syrian pound dropped to its lowest ever recorded rate in June as new United States sanctions came into force. The cost of food is now more than double the prices reached during the peak of the conflict in 2016 and continue to rise, according to the United Nations humanitarian affairs office.  
In response Save the Children is calling for "unrestricted humanitarian access and the reauthorisation of border crossings, including in Bab Al Salam north of Aleppo which was closed in July, to ease the suffering for families and children who continue to struggle in the middle of a prolonged economic crisis and the spread of a pandemic.”
In July, the UN Security Council narrowly passed a resolution allowing scaled down aid. Weeks of wrangling ended when Russia and China abstained from a vote, allowing a border crossing between Turkey and Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province to remain open to aid for another year. Authorization from the Security Council allows UN agencies to deliver humanitarian aid without approval from Damascus. Border crossings with Jordan and Iraq have been closed to aid. 
We don’t always eat in the evening because there is no bread. Sometimes I get hungry at noon, or in the afternoon; I get hungry, but I can never find bread to eat… When we were home we could eat whatever we wanted, but here, the food is different than it was at home... and we can’t afford to buy [food] anymore,” the Save the Children report quoted Faten, a 10-year-old child who lives in a displacement camp in northwest Syria, as saying.
A recent survey conducted by Save the Children found that "65% of children have not had an apple, an orange, or a banana for at least three months. In North East Syria, almost a quarter of children said that they had not eaten these fruits in at least nine months“.
The last time I had fruit was more than 2 months ago. When I ask my parents to buy us some, they say we can barely afford food,”  ten-year-old Noura said.
Many children told Save the Children that all they had eaten over the past weeks was rice and beans.
My [two] children are six years old… and two months old. Their growth has stopped so much. I took them to many doctors, they gave us medicine, but they didn’t get better, not even one percent. Sometimes they say malnutrition, sometimes something else... I got all kinds of medicine... every half a month I buy medicine for around 7,000 Syrian pounds,” Rami, a father of two, said. 
A prolonged lack of nutritious food in daily meals can cause lifelong risks for children, including stunting, or chronic malnutrition. In Syria, at least one in eight children, or 500,000, currently suffers from this condition, according to Save the Children. 
Malnutrition is a greatly overlooked problem facing Syria’s children. Malnourished children face myriad risks to their health and wellbeing, such as stunting, which limits children’s ability to fight off disease, increases the likelihood of anxiety and depression, and leads to poor performance in school” Save the Children’s Syria Response Director Sonia Khush said.
As of Tuesday, more than 5,400 reported cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Syria.
The World Food Programme (WFP) in mid-May warned that more than nine million people are “food insecure” in the war-torn country due to the COVID-19 crisis.   
The UN estimates 400,000 people have died in Syria’s conflict since 2011, more than 5.6 million people have fled the country, and over 6 million are internally displaced.

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