Syrian refugees prepare food in the Oncupinar camp in Kilis in southern… (Adem Altan / AFP/Getty Images )
BEIRUT -- Escalating violence and chaos in Syria are making it more difficult for people to find food, the United Nations World Food Program is warning.
"The food security situation for many Syrians is rapidly deteriorating with the intensification of the conflict and its expansion to more areas," the Rome-based WFP said in a statement Tuesday. "Bread shortages are becoming more common with long queues in front of bakeries, a shortage of fuel, damage sustained by bakeries, and an increased demand from fresh waves of internally displaced people."
Aid agencies estimate that the Syrian conflict, now in its 20th month, has displaced more than 2 million people, including more than 1.5 million made homeless within the country and an additional 500,000 that have fled Syria.
"Food consumption is particularly low among displaced families taking refuge in schools and public buildings due to the lack of access to cooking facilities," the WFP said.
The U.N. reports that road access to and from Damascus, the capital, has become more hazardous, making it difficult to dispatch food from U.N. warehouses. The problem is especially acute in war-ravaged northern Syria, where the largest city, Aleppo, has been a battleground since the summer. Human rights groups have accused Syrian warplanes of targeting lines of people waiting outside bakeries in rebel-held districts of Aleppo, leading to scores of casualties.
The U.N. food agency also reported a surge in "indiscriminate attacks on its trucks in different parts of the country."
The U.N. this week announced that it was withdrawing all "nonessential" foreign personnel from Syria because of the escalating violence. About 20 international and 100 local WFP staffers remain in the country to help feed about 1.5 million "vulnerable" Syrians, the agency said.
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