A Look Back at Syria’s 2021: People at the Heart of One of the Country’s Toughest Years
On the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the Syrian crisis in March 2021, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) found that the country’s already high levels of hunger had dramatically increased. In just one year, an additional 4.5 million Syrians were now hungry, bringing the total to a staggering 12.4 million people – the highest number ever recorded.
After a decade of conflict, life is harder than ever for the majority of Syrian families. In 2021, 6.8 million people were internally displaced and were left struggling to rebuild their lives after years of tragedy, uncertainty and unimaginable loss. Many families struggled to cope with the economic crisis and exhausted their savings. Throughout the year, basic food items – including bread, lentils and rice – became more expensive than ever before. At the same time, the value of the Syrian pound dropped.
To support them, the U.N. World Food Programme scaled up to provide lifesaving food to an additional 1 million people from August onwards. We provided school meals and snacks to students, nutrition support to pregnant and nursing mothers and children, and helped families across the country boost their self-sufficiency. Today, 5.7 million people are receiving our monthly support including these resilient men and women, boys and girls:
From medical clinics to classrooms to kitchen tables, the U.N. World Food Programme delivered food to the people who needed it the most. In the midst of COVID-19, our staff have traveled across the country to make sure that more families than ever before can access the food they need.
Looking ahead to 2022, huge challenges remain. When U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley visited Syria in November, he said: “Mothers are telling me that with the upcoming winter they are caught between a rock and a hard place. They either feed their children, and let them freeze, or keep them warm and let them go hungry. They cannot afford both fuel and food.”
Amidst the destruction and devastation in Syria, there are always moments when people’s determination will never cease to amaze. Parents who talk proudly about their children recovering from malnutrition, farmers who are rebuilding their livelihoods and their sources of food, teachers who make sure all of their students arrive at school each day and eat a healthy snack in class. Hope for peace remains.
This story originally appeared on WFP’s Stories on December 30, 2021 and was written by Jessica Lawson.