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Syria: Food security under fire


March 16, 2021 • 4 min read

Supporting internally displaced people’s access to food in Northwest Syria

Until 2011, Adnan* (37) worked on chicken farms in Northwest Syria. Toiling for long hours, the wages were very low, but he made ends meet and supported his family.  He had lived his whole life in a small  town in Hama province. Life was challenging, but stable.

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the war in Syria. The past 10 years have been the most difficult of Adnan’s life.

When the war began, the conflict caused serious disruptions to food production supplies. Even causal employment became hard to find.

He says: “The first thing to happen was losing my job. Shelling and displacement made transportation difficult, and this led to shortages of raw materials and price rises. Many in Hama couldn’t raise poultry anymore.”

As a result of shelling and constant airstrikes, Adnan, his wife and their three young children were forced to flee their home, and travelled to a nearby town further north in Hama province.

Adnan notes that “the situation there wasn’t much better.” The family spent seven years in the area, struggling to find sustainable livelihoods opportunities. They welcomed two new children into their family, a son and a daughter. However, the lack of stable employment and the approaching line of fire forced the family to flee once again, and they moved to Idleb province in 2018.

Throughout displacement, Adnan had to borrow from family and friends to survive. He says he was focused on ensuring the children had enough to eat despite the constant moving. “The children cannot tolerate hunger.”

Fleeing to Idleb

On route to Idleb, Adnan badly injured his leg.

“My family and I were travelling in an overloaded vehicle with other internally displaced people. The terrain was treacherous, and the vehicle crashed.”

Unable to obtain local medical treatment or to afford travel to a different hospital, Adnan still suffers pain. He had been getting occasional employment in workshops, but due to his deteriorating health and mobility issues, he had to give up work. His young children had to find employment in his place.

Support families in Syria

Assistance from GOAL

In 2018, while the whole family lived in a single room, Adnan was included in GOAL’s Emergency Response programme in Northwest Syria and began to receive ‘Ready to Eat’ (RTE) food rations. The rations are provided to families like Adnan’s to help them survive the first months of displacement and contain foodstuffs that do not require cooking.

The ration sizes are determined by family size and the caloric needs. Later, as the family started to settle down, they started to receive medium-term monthly food assistance from GOAL.

Food had been the family’s biggest expense, and the continued assistance supplied by GOAL not only provided food security but also alleviated financial pressure on the family.

“We no longer need to borrow money, and we can spend more money on other things like our children’s education. They had to leave their schools as I couldn’t afford such expenses, but now I’m planning to send them back to school.”

GOAL is one of the largest international NGOs on the ground in Northwest Syria. Despite 10 years of conflict, the humanitarian needs of Syrian people, particularly in Idleb and northern Aleppo, are as urgent as ever.

Through food kits, non-food household item distributions, and cash-based assistance, GOAL has ensured that hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people like Adnan can meet their most basic needs.

As the war continues and the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbates the situation on the ground, Adnan still has hope for the future.

“I hope that one day we will have a stable home for myself and my family. I wish that we will live in peace and stability away from fear and anxiety caused by war, shelling, poverty, and displacement.”

“Those children who wake up to see this nightmare of destruction and war are being deprived of their most basic rights as children. I really hope that one day they will be able to continue their education so that they can build a bright future and live a better life.”

You can help families like Adnan’s and support GOAL’s work in Syria with a donation today.

*Name changed to protect the family’s identity