United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock has stated that some 60 per cent of the Syrian population do not receive enough regular safe and nutritious food.
"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," he announced. "An additional 4.5 million people have fallen into this category over the last year."
Lowcock stated: "This increase may be shocking, but it cannot be said to be surprising," explaining that "Syria's fragile economy has suffered multiple shocks over the past 18 months."
He added: "The substantial 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."
The UN official continued: "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 school. Those who have run out of options are simply going hungry."
Lowcock elaborated: "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 shows that up to one in three children in some areas suffers from stunting."
Lowcock reported a doctor at a paediatrics hospital explaining: "Of his 80 in-patient beds, half are occupied by malnourished children. Five children have died at his hospital as a result of malnutrition in the past two months."
He reported another paediatrician revealing that: "She diagnoses malnutrition in up to 20 children a day. But parents are bringing their children to her for completely different reasons, unaware that they are suffering from malnutrition."
Concluding his remarks, Lowcock stressed: "Perpetrators of serious violations and abuses of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable."