Feeding the homeless in Syria is a big concern. Political conflicts, natural disasters and economic instability are the biggest causes of homelessness in the world. Syria shares two of the reasons, i.e. conflict and economic instability. Since the Syrian crisis began in 2011, the country has been on a downward slope of economic growth. This has resulted in millions of people being forced to leave their homes in order to fulfil daily livelihood necessities.

According to the recent report from the International Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), the number of internally displaced people as of 2017 is nearly 6.8 million out of which 2.9 million were displaced during the year. The problem is so severe that it has taken the country on top of the list for total number of IDPs. Millions of people are homeless in their own homeland, facing enormous challenges.

The Prime Concern for Syrian IDPs

Living homeless has many challenges. While economic stability is the primary concern, Syrian families have much less than what they expect can bring balance to their living. Feeding the homeless people is a major concern as they don’t have enough income to feed themselves. Most of the efforts of breadwinners are spent in providing food and clothing for the family. They hardly save enough to secure a roof. Many strive to fulfil their nutritional requirements.

The food and agricultural activities inside Syria are also on the diminishing curve. The latest report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has the adverse effects of the Syrian crisis on the food and agriculture sector. According to the recent publication, the conflict has amassed a loss of more than £16 billion to the crop and livestock production, putting a massive dent on of the Syrian economy.

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The Director General of FAO says, “Rural development and food security are central to the global response to the refugee crisis.”

The deficit in the agricultural yield directly impacts the most underprivileged civilians, mainly the homeless. The shortage of food and inflation has made it extremely difficult for low-income to fulfil their daily nutritional requirements. Children are the ones most affected by the crisis.

A study carried out by the University of Leeds in 2017 dubbed the nutritional situation in Syria as “Serious”. The UN estimates that 7 million people inside Syria are facing food insecurity. The deficiency of minerals is causing health problems such as iron deficiency anaemia in pregnant women. Acute malnutrition is reported to be 7.8% in women of childbearing age.

Most of the vulnerable groups are concentrated in western regions such as Idlib, Homs and Damascus where thousands of people are at high risk of food insecurity. The study did not find considerable data on the nutritional status of the elderly. Though, food management programmes remain crucial in the fight against malnutrition in the country.

Fighting Food Insecurity

Considering the current challenges faced by millions of Syrian people, Watan UK has launched several food-based projects at different locations in Syria. The Food Security Programme & Livelihood programme by Watan UK is focused on providing sustainable solutions to overcome food shortage and to make food available to all.

Food Baskets

In 2016, Watan UK delivered 390,532 food baskets to the needy families and 100,000 food baskets to the people living in besieged areas. Each basket contains rice, flour, lentils, cooking oil, beans and canned food that is perfect for feeding the homeless families for up to one month. The project still delivers food to Homs, Idlib, Aleppo, Damascus suburbs and other regions where there is urgent need of food.

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Flour Mills and Bakery

Watan UK is supporting three bakeries in Idlib, where 140,000 bread packs are produced and delivered to the needy families every month. The bakery was established to provide a sustainable supply of bread to the nearby areas. We also opened a “Care Bakery” which is owned and run entirely by us with the support of our donors. The bakery distributes over 56,000 bread packs in the suburbs of Aleppo every month.

Child Nutrition Project

Young children and infants are among the most vulnerable groups to food-deprivation. Almost two-third of the Syrian children have been food-insecure at some point in time. Watan UK has addressed the issue by distributing special food packs that contain foods rich in nutrients. These ‘Nutrition Packs’ were directed at children suffering from acute malnutrition.