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UN says it can't feed one million hungry Syrians

January 08, 2013

Syrian refugee children stand near their tent, surrounded by water and mud, at Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, near the Syrian border in Mafraq, Jordan. -AP Photo

GENEVA: The World Food Program said Tuesday it is unable to help an estimated one million Syrians who are going hungry, blaming a lack of security in the war-stricken country.    

This month, the agency aims to help 1.5 million of the 2.5 million Syrians whom the Syrian Arab Red Crescent says need food aid, spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said.

The poor security and the agency's inability to use the Syrian port of Tartous for shipments means that a large number of people in the some of the country's hardest hit areas will not get help, she said.

''Our main partner, the Red Crescent, is overstretched and has no more capacity to expand further,'' Byrs said.

She also said that the agency has temporarily pulled its staff out of its offices in the Syrian cities of Homs, Aleppo, Tartous and Qamisly due to the rising dangers in those areas.

But in December, WFP was able to enter for the first time in many months some hard-to-reach areas near the Turkish border, she said.

The Syria crisis began with peaceful protests in March 2011 but has since shifted into a civil war. At least 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict, according to a recent UN estimate.