UN warns of the fragile economic situation in Syria

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock has warned of the dire economic situation in Syria which is resulting in a humanitarian crisis.  Lowcock said before the UN Security Council: “Around 60 per cent of the Syrian population, that’s 12.4 million people, do not have regular access to enough safe and nutritious food. An additional 4.5 million people have fallen into this category over the last year. The increase maybe shocking, but it cannot be said to be surprising. Syria’s fragile economy has suffered multiple shocks over the past 18 months. The substantia depreciation of the Syrian Pound, which lost more than three quarters of its value over the past year, has been one of the visible effects of this.

While the value of the Pound dropped, prices of food and other essential items increased by more than 200 per cent.

And purchasing power has dwindled substantially as a result. Average household expenses now exceed average income by an estimated 20 per cent.

The result is that millions of Syrians are resorting to desperate measures to survive.

More than 70 per cent of Syrians say they have taken on new debt over the last year. Many are selling assets and livestock. Parents are eating less so they can feed their children, and they are sending them to work instead of to school.

Those who have run out of options are simply going hungry.

More than half a million children under five in Syria suffer from stunting as a result of chronic malnutrition, according to our latest assessments. We fear this number will increase.

These problems are visible in many parts of the country but the situation is particularly bad in the north-west and the north-east, where nutrition surveillance data show that up to one in three children in some areas suffer from stunting. That effects this will have on their development and learning will be lifelong and irreversible”.

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