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Updated On: Sunday, 22 September 2019

Feeding Raqqa

Content by: South-South News

6 April 2018, New York, USA | South-South News — As the residents of Raqqa, Syria, are slowly rebuilding their destroyed homes, the World Food Program (WFP) is gearing up to provide food rations for some 30,000 of its most vulnerable citizens.

Raqqa city came under control of non-state armed groups in 2013, then a year later, ISIS took control of the area and made Raqqa city the capital of its self-proclaimed “caliphate.”

On 6 June 2017, the Syrian Democratic Forces (not Syrian Government) launched a military operation to gain control of Raqqa city, which they fully encircled on 28 June, and took control of on 19 October 2017.

Civilians are gradually returning, although experts estimate that several thousand landmines remain inside the city. So far, according to OCHA nearly 100,000 people were registered as having returned to the city.

On April 1, a UN mission led by WFP visited Raqqa City. The mission was challenging in terms of restriction on movements due to lack of internet and phone signals. Once on the ground, it is clear that Raqqa city has witnessed the some of the worst destruction in all of Syria.

Food prices are relatively normal because trade routes from Damascus, Aleppo and Hassakeh - bringing food from Iran and Turkey, are now functioning. However, unemployment is very high thereby impacting people’s purchasing power. Many people are buying on credit or selling their assets to be able to buy food and other necessities.

Raqqa and the surrounding areas depend on agriculture, but it will be a long time before irrigation channels and bridges are fixed and the local economy recovers. Herding is a key business in Raqqa and there are many sheep in the surrounding rural area, but traders said some people are selling their sheep to make money and fix their homes or build a house or buy things they need including food.

Entering its eighth year, the Syrian Conflict has left millions impoverished and hungry. Ever more people risk food insecurity. Alarming numbers are still facing acute hunger. Some 6.5 million people in Syria are now food insecure. At the same time, 4 million people are at risk of becoming so, twice as many as a year ago.

WFP is having to make tough choices because of limited funding. This means prioritizing the most vulnerable, who would go hungry without food assistance. As of January, WFP was providing food assistance to 3 million people in Syria, down from 4 million in August due to lower than expected funding forecasts.

The agency requires $159 million just to keep operations running, even at reduced rates, through July this year.

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