Syria’s hunger crisis worsens, COVID outbreak could intensify – Middle East Monitor

Syria faces an unprecedented hunger crisis with over 9.three million individuals missing sufficient meals whereas the nation’s coronavirus outbreak, although apparently managed for now, could nonetheless speed up, U.N. assist businesses mentioned on Friday, Reuters reviews.

The World Food Programme (WFP) informed a briefing in Geneva that the variety of individuals wanting important foodstuffs had risen by 1.four million prior to now six months.

Food costs had additionally soared by greater than 200% in lower than a 12 months as a result of freefall in neighbouring Lebanon’s economic system and COVID-19 lockdown measures in Syria, WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs mentioned.

After 9 years of armed battle, greater than 90% of Syria’s inhabitants lives below the $2 per day poverty line and humanitarian wants are rising, Akjemal Magtymova, the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Syria, informed a separate briefing.

UN envoy warns: Famine could be knocking on Syria’s door

Fewer than half of Syria’s public hospitals are practical, whi1e half of the medical workforce has fled for the reason that battle started, she mentioned, with these remaining dealing with a “pervasive threat of kidnapping and targeted killings”.

Authorities have reported 248 coronavirus infections, together with 9 deaths in government-held areas, whereas an extra 5 circumstances and one loss of life have been recorded by the Kurdish-led administration within the northeast, WHO figures present.

“The official numbers represent a likely underestimate of the true numbers, and that’s not unique to Syria at all,” mentioned Richard Brennan, WHO’s regional emergency director.

After a gradual begin, COVID-19 outbreaks in Iraq, Egypt and Turkey accelerated and the identical is anticipated in Syria, he mentioned.

“What we do know in Syria is you don’t have an explosive outbreak, you can’t cover up, you can’t miss an explosive outbreak. The health facilities are not overwhelmed, so this is why we still have an opportunity to scale up our preparedness to blunt and mitigate the worst of the outbreak,” Brennan mentioned.

No infections have been reported within the rebel-held northwest, he mentioned. But the heavily-populated area solely has one practical laboratory and the chance of the brand new coronavirus spreading quickly is excessive, he added.

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