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Poverty & Hunger

Syrian Arab Republic


In the early years of the 21st Century


Description: Description: Syria

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Syria in the early years of the 21st Century.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of poverty are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the relationship between distribution of labor and per-capita GDP, for example.  Perhaps your paper could focus on life expectancy or infant mortality.  Other factors of interest might be unemployment, literacy, access to basic services, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include some of the possible outgrowths of poverty such as Human Trafficking, Street Children, or even Prostitution.  There is a lot to the subject of Poverty.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

*** ARCHIVES ***

The World Factbook - Syria

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency CIA

[accessed 17 November 2020]

World Factbook website has moved to --->

[accessed 10 January 2021]

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW - Syria's economy has deeply deteriorated amid the ongoing conflict that began in 2011, declining by more than 70% from 2010 to 2017.

GDP - per capita (PPP): $2,900 (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 17%

industry: 16%

services: 67% (2008 est.)

Unemployment rate: 50% (2017 est.)

Population below poverty line: 82.5% (2014 est.)

Maternal mortality rate: 31 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate: total: 16.5 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth: total population: 73.7 years

Drinking water source: improved: total: 99.4% of population

Physicians density: 1.29 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Sanitation facility access: improved: total: 99.1% of population

Electricity access: electrification - total population: 92% (2017)

The Borgen Project - Syria

[accessed 27 February 2021]

The Borgen Project works with U.S. leaders to utilize the United States’ platform behind efforts toward improving living conditions for the world’s poor.  It is an innovative, national campaign that is working to make poverty a focus of U.S. foreign policy.  It believes that leaders of the most powerful nation on earth should be doing more to address global poverty. From ending segregation to providing women with the right to vote, nearly every wrong ever righted in history was achieved through advocacy. The Borgen Project addresses the big picture, operating at the political level advancing policies and programs that improve living conditions for those living on less than $1 per day.

~ Child Hunger In Idlib Grows Amidst Pandemic

~ 4 Initiatives To Alleviate Poverty In Syria

~ How The Bread Shortage In Syria Deepened Poverty

~ Improving Women’s Rights In Syria

Conflict, climate change, and COVID-19 drive extreme hunger

Oxfam, 9 July 2021

[accessed 19 July 2021]

The effects of conflict, COVID-19, and climate change have intensified the global hunger crisis.

SYRIA -- An Oxfam study found that women-headed households have been hit the hardest, reporting an extreme decline in their food consumption. Aisha Ahmad Moussa, a farmworker in rural Aleppo, is one such woman. Moussa, a widow, is struggling to feed her eight children on her income, which is dwindling due to low rainfall.

Before COVID-19, Moussa, 34, says her family was doing relatively well. The farm work was difficult, but she did not mind hard labor if it meant her children were taken care of. In those days, she could afford to buy whatever they wanted to eat and was able to daily cook two to three meals of nutritious food for her growing children.

The pandemic changed everything. During curfew, she had to stop working. They lived off handouts from neighbors. Now she says the prices for food are so high that it’s difficult to find anything to cook. A typical meal is tomato paste sandwiches. They are down to one meal a day, if that.

Hunger Hotspots - FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity - March to July 2021 outlook

Food and Agriculture Org of the UN FAO, World Food Program WFP, 2021

[accessed 30 May 2021]

COUNTRIES WITH CATASTROPHIC SITUATIONS: FAMINE-LIKE CONDITIONS OR FACTORS LEADING TO A RISK OF FAMINE -- In the Syrian Arab Republic, the economy has been rapidly deteriorating in 2020 due to multiple shocks including mass population displacement, damage to infrastructure ad services and a shortage of foreign-exchange reserves. This led to a rise in the number of food insecure people to 12.4 million, including 1.3 million severely food insecure. Among the 12.4 million, there are also 1.7 million people reside.

“We are afraid to go to sleep at night”: a Syrian widow’s struggle to care for her children

News and Press Release, Islamic Relief, 16 March 2021

[accessed 17 March 2021]

[accessed 17 March 2021]

“As the days have passed by, my children have gone without dinner because we live in poverty.”

To support her children, Um Bashir started working for a daily wage, harvesting crops. She has been able to use some of this money to buy school supplies for her young daughters, who she has sent to school. She is currently working on the olive harvest with her other daughters, telling us, “I do my best at home and am thankful for my patient children.”

THE STRUGGLES OF WINTER -- Sadly, Um Bashir still cannot earn enough for sufficient food or medicine, and the harsh Syrian winter makes life even more difficult.

“During the winter, I need firewood to keep my children warm. When firewood is not available, I burn old, worn out clothes in the stove, so that my children can stay warm. My children have asked me for winter clothes but I cannot afford them.”

Syria: Economic decline, rising hunger and surging humanitarian needs

UN News, 25 February 2021

[accessed 27 February 2021]

DESPERATE MEASURES -- The UN official told the Council that average household expenses now exceed income by an estimated 20 per cent, leaving millions to resort to “desperate measures” to survive.

More than 70 per cent of Syrians say they have taken on new debt, and are forced to sell assets and livestock. Meanwhile, parents are eating less so they can feed their children, who are now working instead of studying. 

“Those who have run out of options are simply going hungry”, he spelled out, flagging that more than half a million under-fives are suffering from the effects of stunting.

LOOKING NORTH -- While these problems are visible in many parts of the country, Mr. Lowcock drew attention to the northwest and northeast, where nutrition data show that up to one in three children in some areas, suffer from the irreversible development and learning impacts of stunting.

“A doctor at a pediatrics hospital told me that of his 80 in-patient beds, half are occupied by malnourished children”, five of whom had died due to their condition, he said.

Meanwhile, malnutrition has become so normal that parents cannot spot the signs in their own children, another doctor told the relief chief.

Food insecurity in Syria reaches record levels: WFP

UN News, 17 February 2021

[accessed 27 February 2021]

NEVER BEEN WORSE --  The situation has never been worse. After 10 years of conflict, Syrian families have exhausted their savings as they face a spiralling economic crisis,” said Sean O’Brien, WFP Representative and Country Director in Syria.

Meanwhile, the cost of basic foods to feed a family for a month – such as bread, rice, lentils, oil and sugar – far exceeds average salaries.

“It is alarming that a simple meal is beyond the reach of families across Syria, and this new data shows humanitarian assistance is the difference between putting a meal on the table and going to bed hungry. Lifesaving support has never been so crucial,” said Mr. O’Brien.

WFP further estimates that the number of Syrians who are severely food insecure, meaning they cannot survive without food assistance, has doubled in the past year to 1.3 million.  Another 1.8 million people are at risk unless urgent action is taken, the agency warned.

Action Against Hunger - Syria

[accessed 21 March 2021]

As the war in Iraq ground on into the latter half of the 2000s, it created unrest across the Arab world, sending hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees into Syria and other neighboring countries. Unfortunately, with Syria’s unbalanced economy, limited resources, and strained infrastructure, it quickly became evident that it wouldn’t be able to shoulder the rising influx without the support of the international community.

The World Bank in Syria

[accessed 21 April 2021]

To date, the World Bank has supported over US$3 billion worth of projects in Jordan and Lebanon to help refugees and host communities. These projects support jobs and economic opportunities, health, education, emergency services and social resilience, and infrastructure.

Looking back a few years …

Advameg, Inc., Encyclopedia of the Nations

[accessed 10 January 2021]

Development of the state-owned oil industry and exploitation of other mineral resources, notably phosphates, have helped to diversify Syrian industry, which was formerly concentrated in light manufacturing and textiles.

On 14 July 1998 Iraq and Syria signed a Memorandum of Understanding reopening the Iraqi Petroleum Company (IPC) pipeline built in 1934 connecting the Kirkuk oil fields with the Syrian port of Banias on the Mediterranean.

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