GENEVA (AP) — A growing number of Syrians have become dependent on the UN food agency to stay alive, officials said Tuesday, with some 1.4 million people requiring its assistance in September in many parts of the country.
But the World Food Program said aid workers still cannot reach all those in need because of war — and in places where there’s fighting food prices have almost doubled.
“There are some areas that no one can reach,” WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva. Aid workers — including those from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and local charities and non-governmental groups — are unable to reach parts of the country, including certain areas of Homs, Aleppo, Daraa and rural Damascus.
Byrs said her agency is also planning to provide food to more than 460,000 Syrian refugees by the end of this year. As of Tuesday, UN refugee agency spokesperson Adrian Edwards said there were 343,871 Syrians formally registered as refugees or being helped by his agency. The vast majority of them are being hosted by neighboring Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Syria’s civil war between President Bashar Assad’s regime forces and armed rebels has destroyed large parts of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city with 3 million residents and its former business capital, and activists say more than 33,000 people have died in the conflict, which began in March 2011.
A small but rising number of Syrian asylum seekers have been arriving in European countries, Edwards said. Some 16,474 Syrians applied for asylum in the European Union, Norway and Switzerland between January 2011 and August 2012.
“While most member states are processing claims and granting protection to Syrians, currently approaches to interpreting protection criteria … vary considerably,” he said. “In Greece, for example, the asylum system fails to meet the protection needs of many refugees. In some countries on the eastern border of the EU, rejection rates are more than 50 per cent.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.