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Syria: A Growing Humanitarian Crisis Amid the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

While the world is focused on the Ukraine war and its effect on the Ukrainian people, another country has been slightly forgotten. Syria, a country that has been drenched in a war for the past 11 years has been deeply affected by the Russia Ukraine war.

Already living in poverty, the war has resulted in food insecurity for 60% of the Syrian population. This whopping percentage of Syrians is not able to regularly bring food to the table for their families. This is a country where, according to some figures, 90% of the population lives in poverty. The last thing needed by the Syrian people is to be affected by another conflict while they have yet to recover from their own.  

Rising Food Prices 

The Russia-Ukraine war continues to result in an increase in food and fuel prices that have affected countries around the world. While more wealthy western countries face higher food and fuel prices, it is the war stricken countries who are suffering the most. And as the war continues to rage, the situation is likely to get worse and worse for Syrians. 

Also Read: The suffering of Syrian refugee

The only recent initiative taken by the international community is at the sixth annual Brussels conference, where international donors pledged $6.7bn to Syria and the neighbouring countries such as Turkey and Jordan which are hosting millions of Syrian refugees. 

” Even before the war in Ukraine, 90 per cent of Syria’s population lived in poverty, two-thirds were dependent on humanitarian aid and 55 per cent were food insecure. In December 2021, the UN Food and Agri­culture Organization warned of the risk of famine against the backdrop of severe drought and a steep decline in Syria’s wheat harvest. “

https://www.swp-berlin.org/en/publication/the-war-in-ukraine-and-its-impact-on-syria

In addition to the aforementioned, at the onset of the Russia-Ukraine war, Russia announced that it would cancel its commitment to providing wheat to certain areas of Syria that were still controlled by the regime.  For this reason, most of Northwest Syria is suffering a food shortage due to it’s dependency on wheat from Ukraine and Russia. 

Another dire issue affecting the Syrian people is that the World Food Program is highly dependent on Ukrainian wheat and the food supply. Due to the war, rising prices and more people in need of it’s aid around the world, the World Food Program will have to do some drastic changes to it’s system. 

Starting May 2022, it will have to reduce life-saving food assistance to some 1.35 million people in northwestern Syria. While the Syrian regime has adopted austerity measures such as rationing, price controls and export restrictions, it has not been successful in preventing the spiralling of food and energy prices.

The War in Ukraine and Its Impact on Syria

Media Coverage

Another factor in how this war affects Syria is the media coverage. Most of the media coverage is related to the correlation between Russia’s involvement in Syria and it’s tactics of war in Ukraine. Another point that is commonly discussed during media coverage is the fact that Russia may recruit Syrians to fight in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

What needs to be discussed in more detail is the plight of the Syrian people whose basic human needs are not being met. What is commonly not covered in the media is the effect this war is having on the already suffering Syrian people. 

Humanitarian Aid Accessibility

But what is worth noting is that the political focus on the international level on the Ukraine war will likely cause disruption to the process of providing and delivering humanitarian aid to Syria. This is because a lot of the humanitarian assistance is dependent on the existence of the United States and Russian dialogue. But due to the war, this dialogue is almost non-existent. 

Also Read: Children in Syria with no Future

What is also likely to be an issue for Syria in the escalation of the war in Ukraine is that it becomes a battlefield between the West (NATO) and Russia. For this reason, it is required that Europeans ensure that the Bab Al-Hawa crossing of Northwest Syria is accessible for humanitarian aid. This should be done by combining efforts with Turkey and the United States to place pressure on Russia in keeping that crossing open and accessible. 

It is important that we bring attention to the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria. A country that has been drenched in a war for the past 11 years should not suffer any more due to another war.