Human RightsRecent

Is Syria on the Brink of Starvation?

By Qasim Swati (United Kingdom)

Starting on March 15, 2011, the nine-year-old Syrian Civil War, fought between the Ba’athist Syrian Arab Republic, with President Bashar al-Assad as its leader, and different foreign and domestic forces, has resulted in bringing a massive destruction to the country as well as its people. The war has killed, at least, 380,636 to 585,000 people, as of March 14, 2020, as claimed by The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a United Kingdom- based information office, established in May 2006, and aiming at documenting abuses and violations of human rights in Syria.

The same Civil War of Syria is also responsible for the internal displacement of an estimated 7,600,000 persons, while making around as many people as 5,116,097 refugees, just as of July 2015 to 2017, as reported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 

So many human rights have been violated and abused in Syria so far, including strict control on the rights of free association, assembly and expression of people; arrests and detentions of civilians by the security forces; the use of chemical weapons, vacuum bombs/aerosol bombs or thermo-baric weapons; cluster bombs; ballistic and anti-tank missiles; executions of people by members of al – Qaeda and ISIL; the systematic killings of over 11,000 detainees in one region of the country between March 2011 and August 2013 by the Syrian government; confiscation of food, cutting off supplies of water, targeting famers while working in their fields and blocking and obstructing access of humanitarian convoys by armed forces of both sides, involved in the civil war; sexual assaults and rapes of women and girls; killings of civilians; keeping thousands of children and women under brutal, harsh and barbaric conditions in a remote camp in the country, etc.

Above all, starvation is one of the most serious consequences of the ongoing Syrian Civil War, which has put the lives of millions of Syrians at risk. In a report by the BBC on 29 June, 2020, titled ‘Syria faces mass starvation or mass exodus without more aid, WFP says’, an American politician and the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, David Muldrow Beasley, has warned that one million Syrians were food insecure in a severe condition, while some of them were already losing their lives due to starvation.

The report also confirms the killings of over 380,000 people and the displacement of 13.2 million Syrians, since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011. “The whole world is facing a crisis unlike anything we have seen probably in everyone’s lifetime. But, quite frankly, what is happening in Syria is unprecedented. It is the worst of all storms coming together”, said by Mr. David Beasley in an interview. While warning against the possible worst outcomes of the situation in Syria, he urged the nations to take necessary measures and steps for stopping the further devastation and loss of lives in Syria, as 11 million of Syrians needed help and protection.

A similar report has been published on Al Arabia (a Saudi free-to-air television news channel broadcast in Modern Standard Arabic) on Monday, 29 June, 2020, in which the international NGOs called on the countries of the world on the eve of a main conference in Brussels for increasing funding and access for millions of Syrians, who are at risk of dying from hunger. A joint statement made by these leading aid groups, in connection with the starvation situation in Syria, expressed the plight of millions of Syrians, as “A staggering 9.3 million Syrians are now going to sleep hungry and more than another two million are at risk of a similar fate.”

Qasim Swati is a freelance journalist, writer and human rights activist, based in the UK, and can be reached at or











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