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Maize harvest/FILE


Food prices have almost doubled in Syria

Maize harvest/FILE

GENEVA, Oct 16 – Prices for basic provisions have nearly doubled in Syria and the UN food agency failed to deliver essential food supplies to 100,000 people last month because of the fighting, it said Tuesday.

“We can see that with the increasing violence in some areas, (food) prices have kept going up since the start of the fighting,” World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva.

In areas of fighting, “food prices are reported to have almost doubled,” the agency said in a statement, adding that scarce cooking gas now was available on the black market at a 400-percent mark-up.

In a country where spiralling violence has already forced some 343,000 people into surrounding countries and 20,000 to Europe, the WFP lamented that it was unable to deliver aid everywhere.

The agency has provided around 1.4 million people across Syria with food aid since September 9, Byrs said, hailing the “heroic effort” of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, which distributed the provisions on the WFP’s behalf.

But the agency was still 100,000 people short of its 1.5 million target, she said, pointing out that the distribution efforts had been complicated by intensifying fighting in Aleppo, parts of Homs, Deir Ezzor and Daraa, and areas of rural Damascus.

To date, the agency has received only $80 million (61.6 million euros) of its $136 million appeal to help provide food to people inside Syria, she said.

In Turkey, where the number of registered refugees has passed the 100,000 mark, Byrs also announced the launch on Monday of a food card system to allow Syrians to buy and cook their own food.

Each card carries the equivalent of $45, enough to pay for a well-balanced diet of at least 2,100 calories per day for a month, the WFP said.

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Countries surrounding Syria currently shelter 343,871 Syrians, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) meanwhile said Tuesday, adding though that the number of Syrian asylum-seekers reaching the European Union “remained small”.

It was nonetheless crucial that the EU showed “solidarity” with Syria by putting in place adequate measures to protect new arrivals, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva.

Some 1.2 million people are internally displaced in Syria because of the fighting, according to the UN.

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